Monthly Archives: May 2016
When I tell my friends I wouldn’t vote for Hillary in a million years, they warn me that Donald Trump’s worse, and suggest I vote for the “lesser evil.” First, I stopped doing that years ago on the grounds that I’m not responsible for our atrocious good cop/bad cop electoral system. Second, I live in a state that hasn’t gone Republican in many years, and votes for president are counted by state. Third, as John Pilger wrote yesterday on newmatilda.com, Hillary could be way worse than Trump. And she’s a known quantity – she will do the things listed below. The reason Trump’s scary is that he’s an unknown quantity.
Read the following, and see what you think.
John Pilger: Why Hillary Clinton Is More Dangerous Than Donald Trump
I’ve been filming in the Marshall Islands, and whenever I tell people where I’ve been, they ask where it is. If I offer a clue by referring to “Bikini,” they ask if I mean the swimsuit. Few are aware that the bikini swimsuit was named to celebrate the nuclear explosions that destroyed Bikini Island. Sixty-six nuclear devices were exploded by the United States in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958 – the equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima bombs every day for twelve years.
Bikini is silent today – mutated and contaminated. Palm trees grow in a strange grid formation, nothing moves, and there are no birds. The headstones in the old cemetery are alive with radiation. My shoes registered “unsafe” on a Geiger counter.
Standing on the beach, I watched the emerald green of the Pacific fall away into a vast black hole. This was the crater left by the hydrogen bomb they called “Bravo.” The explosion poisoned people and their environment for hundreds of miles, perhaps forever.
On my return journey, I stopped at Honolulu airport and noticed an American magazine called Women’s Health. On the cover was a smiling woman in a bikini, and the headline: “You, too, can have a bikini body.” A few days earlier, in the Marshall Islands, I’d interviewed women who had very different “bikini bodies;” each had suffered life-threatening cancers. And unlike the smiling woman in the magazine, all of them were impoverished: the victims and guinea pigs of a rapacious superpower more dangerous today than ever.
I relate this experience as a warning and to interrupt a distraction that has consumed so many of us. The founder of modern propaganda, Edward Bernays, described this phenomenon as “the manipulation of the habits and opinions” of democratic societies. He called it an “invisible government.”
How many people are aware that a world war has begun? At present, it is a war of propaganda, of lies and distraction, but this can change instantaneously with the first mistaken order, the first missile.
In 2009, President Obama stood before an adoring crowd in Prague, pledging to make “the world free from nuclear weapons.” People cheered and cried, and a torrent of platitudes flowed from the media. He was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
It was all fake. He was lying. The Obama administration has built more nuclear weapons, more nuclear warheads, more nuclear delivery systems, and more nuclear factories. Nuclear warhead spending alone has risen higher under Obama than under any American president. The cost over thirty years is more than $1 trillion.
A mini nuclear bomb, the B61 Model 12, is planned. General James Cartwright, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said of it, “Going smaller [makes using this nuclear] weapon more thinkable.”
In the last 18 months, the greatest build-up of military forces since World War II – led by the United States – is taking place along Russia’s western frontier. Not since Hitler invaded the Soviet Union have foreign troops presented such a demonstrable threat to Russia.
Ukraine – once part of the Soviet Union – has become a CIA theme park. Having orchestrated a coup in Kiev, Washington effectively controls a regime that’s next door and hostile to Russia: a regime literally rotten with Nazis. Prominent parliamentary figures in Ukraine are the political descendants of the notorious OUN and UPA fascists. They openly praise Hitler and call for the persecution and expulsion of the Russian-speaking minority. This is seldom news in the West, or it’s inverted to suppress the truth. In Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – next door to Russia – the US is deploying combat troops, tanks, and heavy weapons, an extreme provocation of the world’s second nuclear power.
What makes the prospect of nuclear war even more dangerous is a parallel campaign against China. Seldom a day passes when China isn’t elevated to the status of a “threat.” According to Admiral Harry Harris, the US Pacific commander, China is “building a great wall of sand in the South China Sea.” What he’s referring to is China building airstrips in the Spratly Islands, also claimed by the Philippines ever since Washington pressured and bribed the government in Manila and the Pentagon launched a propaganda campaign called “freedom of navigation.” This means freedom for American warships to patrol and dominate the coastal waters of China. Try to imagine the American reaction if Chinese warships did the same off the coast of California.
In my film “The War You Don’t See,” I interviewed journalists in America and Britain like Dan Rather. All of them said that had journalists and broadcasters done their job and questioned the propaganda that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction; and had the lies of George W. Bush and Tony Blair not been amplified and echoed by journalists, the 2003 invasion of Iraq might not have happened, and hundreds of thousands of men, women and children would be alive today.
The propaganda laying the ground for a war against Russia and/or China is no different in principle. To my knowledge, no journalist in the Western “mainstream” asks why China is building airstrips in the South China Sea. The answer ought to be glaringly obvious. The United States is encircling China with a network of bases, with ballistic missiles, battle groups, and nuclear bombers. This lethal arc extends from Australia to the Marianas, Marshalls, and Guam, to the Philippines, Thailand, Okinawa, Korea, and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India. America is tightening a noose around the neck of China. This isn’t news. Silence by media, war by media.
In 2015, in high secrecy, the US and Australia staged the biggest single air-sea military exercise in recent history, Talisman Sabre. Its aim was to rehearse an Air-Sea Battle Plan, blocking sea lanes to cut off China’s access to oil, gas and other vital raw materials from the Middle East and Africa.
In the circus known as the American presidential campaign, Donald Trump is being presented as a lunatic, a fascist. He’s certainly odious; but he’s also a media hate figure, which should arouse our skepticism. Trump’s views on migration are grotesque, but no more grotesque than those of David Cameron. It isn’t Trump who’s the Great Deporter from the United States, but the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama.
According to one liberal commentator, Trump’s “unleashing the dark forces of violence” in the United States. Unleashing them? This is the country where toddlers shoot their mothers and the police wage a murderous war against black Americans. This is the country that’s attacked and sought to overthrow more than 50 governments, many of them democracies, and bombed from Asia to the Middle East, causing the deaths and dispossession of millions of people. No other country has such a record of violence. And most of America’s wars – almost all of them against defenseless countries – have been launched by liberal Democratic presidents: Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and Obama.
In 1947, a series of National Security Council directives described the paramount aim of American foreign policy as “a world substantially made over in [America’s] own image.” The ideology was messianic Americanism. We were all Americans, or else. Heretics would be converted, subverted, bribed, smeared, or crushed.
Donald Trump’s a symptom of this, but he’s also a maverick. He calls the invasion of Iraq a crime, and doesn’t want to go to war with Russia or China. The danger to the rest of us isn’t Trump, but Hillary Clinton. She’s no maverick – she embodies the resilience and violence of a system whose vaunted “exceptionalism” is totalitarian with an occasional liberal face. As presidential election day draws near, she’ll be hailed as the first female president, regardless of her crimes and lies, just as Barack Obama was lauded as the first black president and liberals swallowed his nonsense about “hope.”
In the 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran with nuclear weapons. As Secretary of State under Obama, she participated in the overthrow of the democratic government of Honduras. Her contribution to the destruction of Libya in 2011 was almost gleeful. When the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi, was publicly sodomized with a knife – a murder made possible by American logistics – Clinton gloated over his death: “We came, we saw, he died.” One of Clinton’s closest allies is Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State, who’s attacked young women for not supporting “Hillary.” This is the same Madeleine Albright who infamously celebrated on TV the death of half a million Iraqi children as “worth it.”
Among Clinton’s biggest backers are the Israel lobby and the arms companies that fuel the violence in the Middle East. She and her husband have received a fortune from Wall Street. And yet, she’s about to be ordained the women’s candidate, opponent of Trump, the official demon. Her supporters include distinguished feminists like Gloria Steinem.
A generation ago, a post-modern cult now known as “identity politics” stopped many intelligent, liberal-minded people from examining the causes and individuals they supported. Self-absorption, a kind of “me-ism”, became the new zeitgeist in privileged western societies, signaling the demise of great collective movements against war, social injustice, inequality, racism, and sexism.
Today, the long sleep may be over. The young are stirring again. The thousands in Britain who supported Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader are part of this awakening, as are those rallying to support Bernie Sanders.
What’s happened to the great tradition of popular direct action, unfettered to parties? Where’s the courage, imagination and commitment required to begin the long journey to a better, just and peaceful world? Where are the dissidents in art, film, the theater, literature? Where are those who will shatter the silence? Or do we wait until the first nuclear missile is fired?
As readers of this blog know, I don’t put much faith in voting or elections, except perhaps on the local level. Worst of all is the dog-and-pony show we call a presidential election, this year being particularly weird. Looks like it’s gonna be Hillary and Trump, though I’m waiting till the fat lady sings before I give up on Bernie. I just voted for him in Oregon’s mail-in primary, and will be writing him in in November if he isn’t nominated.
I know a lot of people are fearful of doing things like this lest it lead to Trump becoming president, but Oregon’s a pretty blue state, and even if it wasn’t, I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Hillary. I voted for Bill and Obama on their first go-rounds, but not on their seconds, and Hillary, we already know, combines the worst of both.
Here’s what the New Internationalist, a British world affairs magazine I trust, says about her:
“There are many good reasons to be suspicious of Clinton and the agenda she’d impose as president. The Clintons – who still operate as a team, with former president Bill a key campaign figure – remain deeply committed to maintaining the corporate status quo. Hillary has earned millions in speaker fees ($225,000 a crack in some cases) from Wall Street firms and trade associations, and in the early days of the 2007-08 financial meltdown opined that it wasn’t all the banks’ fault, ‘not by a long shot’, instead blaming homebuyers who ‘should have known they were getting in over their heads.’ These days, she talks a good game against bank malfeasance, but her voting record doesn’t back this up, a grateful financial sector continues to flood her campaigns with contributions, [and we all know how politicians change their tune once they get into office].
Those looking for the roots of today’s inequality in the US often trace it back to Bill Clinton’s administration (in which Hillary played an active part), particularly the 1999 repeal of the already enfeebled Glass-Steagall Act that separated commercial and investment banking. ‘Clintonomics’ also moved the Democrats away from their traditional populist commitments to fight poverty, cutting off public support for the poor after just two years.
So the ‘progressivism’ in which the Clintons try to clothe themselves has always been skin deep. As a New York senator, Hillary voted to authorize the 2003 invasion of Iraq. As Secretary of State under President Obama, even in a political culture wildly enthusiastic in its support for Israel, Clinton outdid herself by placing almost complete blame on Hamas for the butchery committed by the Israeli Defense Forces during the 2012 Gaza incursion. Two years earlier, she provided a total whitewash for Israel’s murderous assault on an unarmed Turkish peace flotilla trying to break the Gaza blockade for humanitarian reasons. The fingerprints of Team Clinton were also all over the 2009 military coup in Honduras that toppled democratically elected but left-leaning president Manuel Zelaya.
Clinton poses as a liberal Democrat while proving her realpolitik credentials by courting the support of conservative imperialists such as war criminal Henry Kissinger and hardline former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. One of her main financial backers, Hiam Saban, is a pro-Israel zealot opposed to Obama’s peace deal with Iran – one of the Democrats’ few clear foreign policy successes.
She claims to have a sense of humor, but it’s an odd one: when asked to reveal the content of her well-paid speech to the high and the mighty at Goldman Sachs, she just laughs.”
No lesser of two evils for me. We’ve been forced to play that game too often under our undemocratic political system, and I’m done with it. It’s not our responsibility that we get no real choice (the reason, in my opinion, why most don’t vote at all — it isn’t “laziness”). Write in Bernie, the name of your real candidate of choice, or “none of the above.” Stick to your truth!
Our collective voice will only be heard when we organize to change the status quo. Even Bernie admits he can’t do it by himself. Good ideas: a proportional, multi-party system and preferential voting (Google them). If we don’t insist on change, it won’t happen.