AuthorTopic: Global Systemic Geopolitical Crisis  (Read 69004 times)

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🌍 The Western Alliance Is Falling Apart
« Reply #765 on: August 10, 2019, 06:53:48 AM »
https://www.globalresearch.ca/western-alliance-falling-apart/5685408

The Western Alliance Is Falling Apart
By Peter Koenig
Global Research, August 02, 2019
Region: Middle East & North Africa
Theme: Intelligence, US NATO War Agenda
In-depth Report: IRAN: THE NEXT WAR?


Ever since Imran Khan became the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan in August 2018, the winds have changed. While his predecessors, though generally leaning eastwards, have often wavered between the US and the China orbit, Khan is in the process of clearly defining his alliances with the east, in particular China. This is for the good of his country, for the good of the Middle East, and eventually for the good of the world.

A few days ago, RT reported that China, in addition to the expansion of the new port in Gwadar, Balochistan, has entered agreements with Pakistan to build a military/air base in Pakistan, a new Chinese city for some half a million people, as well as several road and railway improvement projects, including a highway connecting the cities of Karachi and Lahore, reconstruction of the Karakoram Highway, linking Hasan Abdal to the Chinese border, as well as upgrading the Karachi-Peshwar main railway to be completed by the end of 2019, for trains to travel up to 160km / hour.

This rehabilitation of dilapidated Pakistani transportation infrastructure is not only expected to contribute between 2% and 3% of Pakistan’s future GDP, but it offers also another outlet for Iranian gas / hydrocarbons, other than through the Strait of Hurmuz – for example, by rail to the new port of Gwadar which, by the way, is also a new Chinese naval base. From Gwadar Iranian hydrocarbon cargos can be shipped everywhere, including to China, Africa and India. With the new China-built transportation infrastructure Iranian gas can also be shipped overland to China.

In fact, these infrastructure developments, plus several electric power production projects, still mostly fed by fossil fuel, to resolve Pakistani’s chronic energy shortage, are part of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also, called the New Silk Road. They are a central part of the new so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which was first designed in 2015 during a visit by China’s President Xi Jinping, when some 51 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) worth then some US$ 46 billion were signed. Pakistan is definitely out of the US orbit.

Today, in the CPEC implementation phase, the projects planned or under construction are estimated at over US$ 60 billion. An estimated 80% are direct investments with considerable Pakistani participation and 20% Chinese concessionary debt. Clearly, Pakistan has become a staunch ally of China – and this to the detriment of the US role in the Middle East.

Washington’s wannabe hegemony over the Middle East is fading rapidly. See also Michel Chossudovsky’s detailed analysis “US Foreign Policy in Shambles: NATO and the Middle East. How Do You Wage War Without Allies?”.

A few days ago, Germany has refused Washington’s request to take part in a US-led maritime mission in the Strait of Hormuz, under the pretext to secure hydrocarbon shipments through this Iran-controlled narrow water way. In reality it is more like a new weaponizing of waterways, by controlling who ships what to whom – and applying “sanctions” by blocking or outright pirating of tankers destined for western ‘enemy’ territories.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced last Wednesday in Warsaw, Poland, that there “cannot be a military solution” to the current crisis in the Persian Gulf and that Berlin will turn down Washington’s request to join the US, British and French operation “aimed at protecting sea traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, and combating so-called “Iranian aggression.”

This idea of the Washington war hawks was conceived after Iran’s totally legal seizure of the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker, after it rammed an Iranian fishing boat a couple of weeks ago. However, nothing is said about the totally illegal and US-ordered British piracy of the Iranian super tanker Grace I off the coast of Gibraltar in Spanish waters (another infraction of international law), weeks earlier. While Grace I’s crew in the meantime has been released, the tanker is still under British capture, but western media remain silent about it, but lambast Iran for seizing a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
Trump – from China to Iran to Venezuela – Threats and Sanctions Everywhere – A Chronicle of Disorganized Chaos Foretold

Germany remains committed to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – JCPOA (the Iran nuclear deal), from which the United States unilaterally withdrew a year ago, and Germany will therefore not intervene on behalf of the US.

Add to this Turkey – a key NATO member both for her strategic location and NATO’s actual military might established in Turkey – moving ever closer to the east, and becoming a solid ally of Russia, after having ignored Washington’s warnings against Turkey’s purchasing of Russian S-400 cutting-edge air defense systems. For “sleeping with the enemy” – i.e. moving ever closer to Russia, the US has already punished Turkey’s economy by manipulating her currency to fall by about 40% since the beginning of 2018. Turkey is also a candidate to become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and so is Iran.

Turkey has become a de facto lame duck as a NATO member and may soon officially exit NATO which would be a tremendous blow to the North Atlantic Alliance – and may tempt other European NATO nations to do likewise. Probably not overnight, but the idea of an ever more defunct NATO is planted.

All indications are that the future, economically and security wise – is in the East. Even Europe may eventually ‘dare’ making the jump towards better relations with primarily Russia and Central Asia and eventually with China.

And that especially if and when Brexit happens – which is by no means a sure thing. Just in case, the UK has already prepared bilateral trade relations with China, ready to be signed – if and when – the UK exits the EU.

Will the UK, another staunch US ally, jump ship? – Unlikely. But dancing on two weddings simultaneously is a customary Anglo-Saxon game plan. The Brits must have learned it from their masters in Washington, who in turn took the lessons from the Brits as colonial power for centuries, across the Atlantic.

Western, US-led war on Iran is therefore unlikely. There is too much at stake, and especially, there are no longer any reliable allies in the region. Remember, allies – shall we call them puppets or peons, are normally doing the dirty work for Washington.
So, threatening, warning and annoying provocations by the US with some of its lasting western allies may continue for a while. It makes for good propaganda. After all, packing up and going home is not exactly Uncle Sam’s forte. The western alliance is no longer what it used to be. In fact, it is in shambles. And Iran knows it.

*

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Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
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🌍 To Defeat Fascism, We Must Dismantle Capitalism
« Reply #766 on: August 18, 2019, 02:05:31 PM »
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/to-defeat-fascism-we-must-dismantle-capitalism/

Aug 16, 2019
|
Book Review
To Defeat Fascism, We Must Dismantle Capitalism


To Defeat Fascism, We Must Dismantle Capitalism
President Donald Trump. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr

“The Terror of the Unforeseen”
A book by Henry A. Giroux

Henry A. Giroux’s book “The Terror of the Unforeseen” analyzes the conditions that have enabled and led to Donald Trump’s rule and the consequences of that rule, which have ushered in an authoritarian version of capitalism. Giroux provides a realistic analysis that holds out the hope that, through collective efforts, change is possible and democracy can be saved.

There is an intellectual debate on whether or not the power wielded by the likes of Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orbán, Matteo Salvini, Geert Wilders, Heinz-Christian Strache, or Jörg Meuthen and Alexander Gauland constitutes fascism. Some analysts — such as Noam Chomsky, Neil Faulkner, John Bellamy Foster, Robert Kagan, Gáspar Miklós Tamás, and Enzo Traverso — speak of creeping fascism, new fascism, or post-fascism. They find both continuities and discontinuities between the classical forms of fascism in Italy and Germany and these contemporary right-wing politicians. Representatives of this position hold that Trump is not Hitler, but stress certain similarities between the two.

Others — including Wendy Brown, Nancy Fraser, Roger Griffin, Chantal Mouffe, Cas Mudde, Robert Paxton, David Renton, and Slavoj Žižek — argue that it is an exaggeration to characterize Trump and other contemporary demagogues as fascists. They prefer terms such as the new authoritarianism, libertarian authoritarianism, reactionary neoliberalism, right-wing populism, the populist radical right, or demagoguery on behalf of oligarchy. They see Trump as dangerous, but stress that his authoritarianism is quite different from classical fascism and Hitler.

Giroux takes the first position. He speaks of “the new form of fascism updated under the Trump administration” and “an updated American version of fascism of which Trump is both symptom and endpoint.” He argues that Trump does not use storm troopers and gas chambers, but divisive language, language that is itself a form of violent action. Fascism is not uniform, but dynamic and therefore takes on variegated forms in different historical and societal contexts. For Giroux, Trump constitutes the rise of neoliberal fascism and the culmination of a long history of authoritarianism that includes historical moments such as the oppression of Native Americans, slavery, US imperialism, torture, and extrajudicial detention and imprisonment (Guantánamo). One of the backgrounds to Trump’s rise is the culture of fear since 9/11, but another is neoliberalism’s dismantling of public education, critical reason, and radical imagination that represents a “full-scale attack on thoughtful reasoning.”

Fascism can exist at the level of individual character, ideology, institutions, or society as a whole, but fascism on one of these levels is a necessary foundation but not a sufficient condition for fascism on the next. Erich Fromm and Theodor W. Adorno argued that the authoritarian, sadomasochistic, necrophilic personality was the psychological foundation of fascism. But the existence of political leaders with fascist characters, even if they communicate fascist ideology, does not automatically imply the existence of a fascist society. For a fascist society to come into existence, these leaders need to call forth collective political practices that result in the full institutionalization of authoritarianism.

In his essay “Anxiety and Politics,” Frankfurt School critical theorist Franz Neumann specifies conditions necessary for the emergence of a fascist society. They include political crises, the alienation of labor, destructive competition, social alienation that threatens certain social groups, political alienation, and the institutionalization of fascist practices, such as collective political anxiety, propaganda and terror, persecutory nationalism, political scapegoating, and xenophobia. A condition that needs to be added to Neumann’s list is the weakness of the political left, beset by rivalries, internal trench wars, factions, splintering, isolation, and orthodoxy, and its frequent miscalculation of the actual dangers of the political situation it is facing — in the Weimar Republic, the Communist Party of Germany did not consider the Nazis, but the Social Democrats as their main enemy. Stalinist Communists characterized the Social Democratic Party of Germany as “social fascism” and believed German capitalism would automatically collapse after Hitler’s rise to power.

Many observers agree that today we find leaders with an authoritarian personality and ideology in a significant number of countries and that there are conditions in these places that can lead to fascist regimes. But the claim that countries such as the United States have become fascist societies goes too far. In a fully fascist society, there is no rule of law and the political opposition and other identified enemies are imprisoned or killed by the exercise of terror. A fascist society is a political Behemoth. Trumpism poses a very negative development, and perhaps has the potential to fully develop into a fascist political economic system — especially if the opposition cannot establish an alternative — but there is still a difference between Trump’s character structure and policies and the total character of US society.

A key contribution of Giroux’s book is the creation of the notion of neoliberal fascism for characterizing the contemporary negativity of politics. But he also uses terms such as populist authoritarianism, American authoritarianism, authoritarian populism, right-wing populism, and inverted totalitarianism. These terms are vague and create more confusion than elucidation. Both totalitarianism and populism can be used for arguing against both socialism and the far right; both, some argue, are threats to democratic societies. For example, Jan-Werner Müller writes in his book “What Is Populism?” that populism is “a danger to democracy” and that Trump and Sanders are “both populists, with one on the right and the other on the left.” Such theorizations often end up in the legitimation of what Tariq Ali calls the “extreme center” of neoliberal ideology, which in action has the material effect of managing the state solely for the benefit of the wealthy.

¤

In “The Road to Serfdom,” the leading neoliberal theorist and ideologue Friedrich A. Hayek claims that socialism and fascism are “inseparable manifestations of what in theory we call collectivism.” He claims that both do not “recognize autonomous spheres in which the ends of the individuals are supreme.” As a consequence, Hayek rejects the notions of the “common good” and the “general interest.” He argues that only a neoliberal society, where society and its institutions are organized as markets and are based on the commodity form and capital accumulation, can secure democracy and freedom. Augusto Pinochet’s neoliberal, military, fascist regime in Chile already showed in the 1970s how mistaken it was to assume that capitalism spontaneously brings about and provides the foundation for democracy. And in the more than 45 years since Pinochet’s coup d’état in 1973, the rise of new authoritarian forms of capitalism have shown repeatedly that Hayek was wrong.

Trump’s plan to build a wall at the US-Mexican border and the resulting government shutdowns aimed at forcing through this project, the travel ban for citizens from majority-Muslim countries, the separation of children from families at the border, his racist attacks on socialist congresswomen, his attempt to dismantle the legal protection of Dreamers from deportation — these are all examples of the ideologically motivated cruelties of the Trump regime and what Giroux (following Rob Nixon) terms slow violence. Over time, an accumulation of such cruelties can reach a tipping point where the current system is devastated and democracy abolished.

Neoliberal fascism, Giroux writes, is a formation “in which the principles and practices of a fascist past and neoliberal present have merged,” and which connects “the worst dimensions and excesses of gangster capitalism with the fascist ideals of white nationalism and racial supremacy associated with the horrors of the [fascist] past.” Giroux reminds us of Horkheimer and Adorno’s insights that liberalism and capitalism have inherent fascist potential, that fascism is a terroristic version of capitalism, that fascist potential has not ceased to exist after the end of World War II, and that “whoever is not willing to talk about capitalism should also keep quiet about fascism” (Horkheimer).

Trumpist policies favor the rich and US corporations, advance an economic version of Social Darwinism, with all-out competition ensuring that only the most powerful survive and the rest face precarity, debt, and ruin. Trumpism tries to compensate for the social void created by this neoliberal individualism by fostering what we can call repressive collectivism, and which, as the present author suggests, can be analyzed at three levels — economic, political, and ideological.

On the level of political economy, repressive collectivism is organized as an antagonism between austerity and precarity, which is used to advance protectionist policies that favor the interests of US capital.

At the level of politics and the state, deregulation, privatization, and commodification give wide freedoms to corporations while policing the poor, promoting law-and-order politics, and instituting progressively more draconian racist immigration policies.

At the level of ideology and culture, we find a combination of hyper-consumerist, narcissistic individualism, the cult of leadership, and nationalism. Under repressive collectivism, nationalism promotes the idea of the unity of US capital and US labor and advances the racist and xenophobic scapegoating of immigrants, refugees, people of color, Muslims, and foreigners.

¤

The conjuncture of neoliberalism and right-wing authoritarianism has brought to the fore an emotional, ideological anti-intellectualism, which impedes any discussion of socialist ideas and ideologically justifies and cements capitalism. Thus, the billionaire capitalist Donald Trump can successfully pretend to be a working-class hero. Right-wing authoritarians often appeal to the working class by displaying crude manners, showing a proletarian habitus, and using simple, dichotomous language. But in reality, of course, these ideologues oppose the interests of the working class. When in power, they often implement laws that give tax breaks to corporations and the rich and harm the working class by dismantling the redistributive effects of the welfare state and public services. Trump signifies the rise of the one percent’s direct rule of the state.

Giroux writes that “fascism begins not with violence, police assaults, or mass killings, but with language.” One of Trump’s infamous, but typical tweets reads: “The FAKE NEWS Media […] is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” Dismissing all criticism as “fake news,” he identifies his person with the American people, and labels any criticism of him as anti-American. Trump’s political anger and authoritarian character replace reason by ideology, facts by fiction, rationality by emotionality, truth by lies, complexity by simplicity, objectivity by prejudice and hate. His combination of anti-socialism, nationalism, and racism were evident recently when he tweeted that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib are “a bunch of communists” who “are Anti-America” and should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Such political communication is not best characterized as post-truth politics, but as propaganda that tries to create false consciousness by simplification, dissimulation, manipulation, diversion, and outright lies. In this context, Giroux argues that we do not live in a post-truth world but in a “pre-truth world where the truth has yet to arrive.”

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has shown how the far right uses data breaches, online data collection, and targeted ads for trying to manipulate elections. “Alt-right” platforms such as Breitbart, InfoWars, Daily Caller, Philosophia Perennis, Unzensuriert, Westmonster, and the rest are projects that spread distortion, false news, and far-right conspiracies. Bots have partly automated the creation of political online attention, and it has become difficult to discern whether humans or machines are creating online content and attention. The culture of false news is one of the factors of Trump’s political success.

As I argued in “Digital Demagogue: Authoritarian Capitalism in the Age of Trump and Twitter,” Twitter and Trump are a match made in heaven. Trump uses first-person singular pronouns much more frequently than first-person plural pronouns, which is an indication of the narcissistic character structure that Erich Fromm argues is prone to engage in destruction for the sake of destruction. Twitter’s me-centered, narcissistic medium invites the authoritarian political communication Giroux characterizes as a show of evil banality: “Trump’s infantile production of Twitter storms transforms politics into spectacularized theater” — Twitter spectacles that are part of a culture of spectacle deeply ingrained in the capitalist tabloid culture that has turned political debate into superficial, personalized, high-speed events that lack the time and depth needed for exploring the complexities of antagonistic societies. In political television debates, candidates are asked to give answers in less than 30 seconds. The capitalist culture of speed, superficiality, tabloidization, and personalization is part of the apparatus that has enabled Trump the spectacle.

The liberal media and Trump have a love/hate relationship. Although these media are some of Trump’s fiercest critics, they helped create him. The Tyndall Report found that in 2015, Donald Trump received 23.4 times as much coverage in evening television newscasts as Bernie Sanders. The capitalist mainstream media are in a symbiotic and symmetrical relation to the political spectacle Trump. The capitalist media require Trump just like Trump requires the capitalist media.

When Trump took to Twitter to call Kim Darroch “a very stupid guy” and the “wacky Ambassador that the UK foisted upon the United States,” The New York Times immediately ran a story titled “UK Envoy’s Leaked Views Inspire More Insults in Trump Tweets.” No matter how silly or insulting, Trump’s tweets are what the mainstream media talk about. The liberal media thereby do not deconstruct Trump but help construct him, giving him the constant public attention that he instrumentalizes for his own political aims.

¤

Henry Giroux’s book takes inspiration from teachers who strike against terrible working conditions and young people who protest against racism, police violence, student debt, and sexual violence and stand up for gun control, peace, environmental protection, social security, equality, and prison abolition. He argues for a broad protest movement that forms a “united front” against neoliberal fascism, brings together the multiple interrelated issues, interests, and struggles, and “connects the dots among diverse forms of oppression.”

Giroux also stresses the importance of critical pedagogy as a central intellectual weapon in the struggle against neoliberal fascism. Developing “critical consciousness” helps form “knowledgeable citizens who have a passion for public affairs”:

Revitalizing a progressive agenda should be addressed as part of broader social movement capable of reimagining a radical democracy in which public values matter, the ethical imagination flourishes, and justice is viewed as an ongoing struggle. In a time of dystopian nightmares, an alternative future is only possible if we can imagine the unimaginable and think otherwise in order to act otherwise.

Giroux argues that driving back authoritarianism requires informed citizens, critical thinking, deliberative inquiry, a culture of questioning, dialogue, debate, and thoughtful action, cultural production, and at a minimum requires that we provide secure jobs for teachers.

A revival of the public sphere depends on the creation of new debate and news formats run on public service internet platforms and platform cooperatives, new formats that challenge the dominance of Fox News, CNN, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook in the organization of political communication. In order to save democracy, we need to reinvent communication so that digital tabloids and digital capitalism are replaced by digital public exchange and the digital commons. Challenging authoritarianism today requires the remaking of political culture and a radical reconstruction of the political economy of the media and the internet. Arguing for such change in this decisive moment for the future of US democracy, Henry Giroux’s book is an important contribution to the development of the intellectual tools needed in the anti-fascist struggle for 21st-century democratic socialism.

This review was originally published by the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Christian Fuchs / Los Angeles Review of Books
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🌍 The World According to George Galloway
« Reply #767 on: August 23, 2019, 02:40:16 AM »
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-world-according-to-george-galloway/

Aug 19, 2019
Opinion

The World According to George Galloway
Chris Hedges


Mr. Fish / Truthdig

This article’s (lightly edited) interview with George Galloway may be seen on video by clicking here.

LONDON—There are few politicians in Britain who are attacked by the courtiers in the press and the mandarins in power more ferociously than George Galloway, a former member of Parliament and an icon of the left. They routinely shower him with insults and accusations. This is because there are few politicians willing to as ferociously name and condemn the crimes and injustices carried out by the American and British governments. He has for many years unequivocally stood up to defend the human rights of Palestinians, thundered against Israeli war crimes and demanded justice, leading him to be attacked as an anti-Semite. He has long opposed the Western sanctions and the endless wars in the Middle East, generating charges that he is a defender of terrorists. He has steadfastly raised his voice on behalf of those persecuted by the American government, including WikiLeaks Publisher Julian Assange.

The Economist once described Galloway, who spent more than 25 years in Parliament, as “the hate figure for the British establishment,” which, given who constitutes the establishment, is the highest of compliments.

I interviewed Galloway in London.

Chris Hedges: Let’s begin with this strange political moment—the rise of figures like Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, a very Trump-like figure, perhaps a smarter version of Trump. How did we get here? From the start of your political career, you spoke out on behalf of the working class, how it was being attacked through neoliberalism, which corrupted the Labour Party the same way it did the Democratic Party in the United States.

George Galloway: Ontology is important. We need to define what is right-wing and what is populist. Some of the appeal of Trump, of Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party in Britain, is the very non-right-wingness. The apparent standing up for the little man, standing up for the worker against big business, against the bankers and the establishment—Trump played that card very well in the Rust Belt of the United States. Nigel Farage played it very cannily in similar places in the Brexit referendum in Britain. The support they garnered was not in fact right-wing, but left-wing. It was an anti-capitalist critique of the kind of finance capitalist model that has beggared millions of people and whole areas of your country and mine. When they say populist, I wonder if they really mean popular. I am attacked as a left-wing populist. But what does that actually mean?

My politics have not changed—perhaps this is a condemnation of me—not a single inch from my teenage years. I stand at exactly the same place. It’s everyone else that moved around me. Insofar as the kind of politics and approach and style that I’m employing are popular, that’s what drives the prevailing orthodoxy crazy. Dr. Johnson, a great Englishman of letters, said, ‘The grimmest dictatorship of them all was the dictatorship of the prevailing orthodoxy.’ I stand up against that from my political standpoint. So does Farage. So, to an extent, does Trump.

Now we come to the ontology of what you call the resistance. The pussy hats and the achingly liberal resistance to Donald Trump leaves me entirely cold. I know they would not be out there protesting worst crimes that the Clinton crime family and the crooner Obama would and did commit. It’s the vulgarness, the brashness, the ugliness of Trump they oppose. But Trump is just American imperialism without the lipstick. Hillary would have had the lipstick. But the crimes would have been the same—arguably much worse.

CH: Figures like Trump and Boris Johnson are con artists. They are using the issues you spent your political career actually fighting for. …

GG: Certainly Boris Johnson. Beyond the mop of blond hair and the rancid morals, I don’t think there’s that much to compare between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. Boris Johnson is unequivocally a character of the 1%. He was educated at Eton and Oxford. He has spent his whole life in the milieu of the ultra-rich. The real upper class. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is to some extent on the outside. He was fabulously rich, although six times bankrupt. Perhaps not as rich as he claims. He has some identification with those on the outside. Con artist, definitely. But not the same kind of con artist as Boris Johnson. I was not happy that Donald Trump became the president of the United States. But I was very happy that Hillary Clinton did not.

CH: The Clintons, like Tony Blair, betrayed their base. Obama [did so] as well. He was quite conscious of what he was doing, unlike George W. Bush.

GG: Trump is failing the people he conned. Whereas Boris Johnson won’t even try to con them. He will not pretend to the British working class that he’s in it for them. Not really.

CH: What is the attraction of figures like Johnson and Trump who turbocharge the looting and pillage by the 1% and the consolidation of power by the global oligarchic elite?

GG: The way they win power is by correctly identifying real, material, objective realities amongst the masses of the people. Trump said to the people in the so-called Rust Belt [that] it’s the Clintons, NAFTA and super-nationalism, and the finance capital model that these people represent, that have done this to you. That was a correct identification and correct analysis. The fact that he’s a creature of the same swamp, and far from draining it is filling it, only comes later. But the existence of these grievances is what the left ought to have been doing. The British Labour [Party] movement, not just in Parliament, but in a broader movement, even in trade unions, in political parties of the left, bought into neoliberalism. The failure of the Labour government of the 1970s, the rise of Thatcher Reaganomics, knocked the stuffing out of the left. They began to follow the line “if you can’t beat them, join them.”

CH: [Margaret] Thatcher reportedly said, “My greatest creation was Tony Blair.”

GG: New Labour was her greatest creation. The left went along with that. And then the collapse of the Soviet Union caused a further oceanic loss of confidence. Instead of consistently standing up for working-class interests—against corporate capitalism, against globalized capitalism, standing up for the people of your own country—they liquidated their previous existence. The working people, quite correctly, thought, “You’re no longer for me. You’re no longer part of me. You’re no longer with me.” That’s a correct identification.

Jeremy Corbyn has rowed back from that into more familiar waters. Insufficiently well, hampered massively by the Blair-ite rump. It’s not really a rump, it’s a ramp actually because it’s quite a lot of MPs whose main purpose is to sabotage him. I know these are not things that can compare across the Atlantic all that easily. But that’s what’s happened here. The working class was abandoned by social democrats. Of course, people to the right of them, these populist figures can move in and steal some of their former clothes.

CH: How do we effectively build a political movement that stymies the rise of these very frightening alt-right entities and these political figures? We’re not doing a very good job of it in the United States.

GG: Not that good here either. First, we have to correctly critique what is wrong with the approach of the alt-right populists. That is to say, not critique what is right about what they’re saying, but to say it better and more convincingly. To say to the workers in the Rust Belt in our countries, “We stand for you. We’re going to fight for you and everything that is in your interests we will support. Everything that is against your interests we will oppose. Whoever else is saying the same thing, you can believe us because we are a part of you. We are your party. We are the people who represent you on a daily basis.” Secondly, to develop an iconography, a vocabulary, that can appeal to people. If you’re waving the flag of the European Union, you will leave the working class in the north and the south, in the west, and south Wales, cold.

The people of this country identify with this country. So, you have to. If you sneer at patriotism, if you sneer at people who actually, warts and all, love their country. … John Lennon once said, “If you want a revolution, don’t go waving pictures of Chairman Mao.” He was right. Chairman Mao leaves them cold on the streets of England. You have to find the iconography, the vocabulary, that fits.

The most impressive figure of my political lifetime was Georges Marchais. He was the leader of the Communist Party of France. He talked of socialism in the colors of France. He talked of France keeping its nuclear weapons but pointing them both ways. He was a figure of the French working class. It’s no accident that as an individual he was the most popular political figure in France, left or right.

CH: Are xenophobia and Islamophobia the driving forces behind support for Brexit?

GG: If you fill the atmosphere with hatred of the Muslims as an other, to further your foreign policy abroad, you’re going to get blowback at home. If you tell everyone that one new Hitler after another—from Nasser, through Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Gadhafi, Bashar al-Assad … I’ve probably forgotten a few Hitlers on the Nile and the Euphrates—if you fill people, the atmosphere, with that kind of mentality, then how do you expect some people not to blame Abdul, who owns the news agent, or the 7-Eleven, on the corner? It’s inevitable. We predicted it. It’s come to pass.

CH: Is the resurgence of white nationalism an effective mechanism in the hands of figures like Trump and Boris Johnson? Does this divide the country and disempower socialists such as yourself?

GG: There is racism in Britain, of course; how can it be otherwise? We were the senior partner in empire for a very long time. You can’t have an empire without notions of racial superiority. How else can you justify occupying and ruling other people and their countries? You’re the father figure holding their hand until they are able to govern themselves. There is racism in Britain. But if you think Britain’s racist, you’ve never lived in France.

It is not as bad in Britain as it is elsewhere in the European Union. Similarly, there are real material reasons for racial antagonism on the part of the majority here. The British government moved a group of Islamist fanatics to Manchester who were known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. The clue was in the name. That Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were cosseted there by the British state for the day they could be sent back to fight in Libya.

One of their sons blew up a lot of our children in the Manchester Arena not that long ago at an Ariana Grande pop concert. It’s legitimate to hate the people who did that. It’s not racist to hate the people who murdered people on this very bridge. [He motioned toward London Bridge.] [Who] cut their throats, drove cars into them. It’s not racist to hate them. If you claim it is, you are actually helping the racists. The existence of an element of Islamist fanaticism on the edges of the Muslim community here in Britain or anywhere in the world should be attacked as ruthlessly by the left as it is for opportunistic reasons by the right.

This is a mistake the left has made. I always say to people, “Never confuse me with a liberal.” I’m not a liberal. I’m actually quite ill-liberal in many regards. I’m a socialist, not a liberal; that’s a different thing. Never get caught seeming to support extremism amongst sections of the community. Be as ruthless. If I was the mayor of London, I’d be hunting down al-Qaida. I’d be out there in a high-vis vest with the police in the mornings, raiding their houses. Whereas quite often, the so-called left looks like they care more about the criminal than the victim. They care more about the human rights of the terrorists than the victim of the terrorist. So, we have to be much smarter.

CH: I have interviewed members of al-Qaida and Islamic Jihad. These figures do not come out of religious households. They came out of petty crime, sometimes more than petty crime, drug addiction.

GG: Sri Lanka is the first time one of these suicide mass murderers came from families that were actually religious and not petty criminals. So, that’s undoubtedly true. But it’s not to say they don’t exist. They exist. They are a Siren on the rocks, seeking to lure young Muslims onto those rocks of extremism and a cult of death. We have to call them out. We have to struggle against it. It can’t only be solved by the military, the police and legal action. It’s necessary but not sufficient.

CH: The North African immigrants that live in banlieues outside of Paris have no jobs. They live in appalling conditions. The racism, as you pointed out, in France runs very deep. They are segregated from most French people. They are not considered—although they may have lived in France since they were 2—to be French by the French. They go back to Tunisia and they’re not considered Tunisian. There’s a loss of identity, a loss of work. These are the contributing factors, which gets back to the reconfigurations of these economies by neoliberalism, which cast aside not just immigrants but huge sections of the working class and working poor as human refuse.

GG: Exactly. I’ve just been writing for my website about the BBC series “The Looming Tower.” We contributed to the rise of this fanaticism in three ways. The first one you just mentioned. The second is by endlessly supporting by all means corrupt dictators, medieval kingdoms, leaving the people of these Muslim countries bereft of any other path out of their misery. Thirdly, by directly assisting al-Qaida and ISIS in Iraq, in Syria. We provided funding, weapons, propaganda and other material on the principle that my enemy’s enemy is my friend. So, if an Islamist fanatic is blowing himself up in the Caucasus, in Chechnya, that’s fine. We’ll help him. We’ll talk about his human rights. But if he’s running on the bridge in London cutting people’s throats, we’ll describe him in quite different terms. Thrice we have assisted the development of this fanaticism.

CH: Those of us who stand up for Palestinian rights are immediately attacked as anti-Semites. The press is an echo chamber, amplifying those attacks. Does Israel have a lock on Britain as they do in the United States?

GG: It doesn’t. But it has a bigger lock than I imagined. The last four years of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, the success by which they have done that, the scale of which they have done that, shows they do have a bigger lock than I thought. Not even in Israel does this Zionist movement have a bigger lock than it does in the United States. Nothing compares to that.

It’s a trick. An Israeli Cabinet minister, Shulamit Aloni, giving me dinner in her house in Tel Aviv, literally told me it was. “It’s a trick,” she said. “We always do it.” They do it because it works. If someone stands up for Palestinian rights, the first default position is to call them an anti-Semite. The fact that someone like me [is attacked as an anti-Semite], with my politics, and the basis of my politics is so heavily Jewish, from Marx, through Trotsky and Chomsky. Half of the Bolshevik Party’s central committee was Jewish. According to the right wing, I am involved in a Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy. The idea that I can be described as an anti-Semite is pitifully absurd. Ditto Jeremy Corbyn, who comes out of the same stable as me more or less. I’d like to think it doesn’t work. But to some extent it does. My wife, who is a person of color, an Indonesian woman, was abused in the street the other day as the wife of an anti-Semite, the wife of a racist. It’s absurd and effective, but less effective than it was before. If you call everybody an anti-Semite, then eventually nobody is an anti-Semite. The boy who cried wolf is a parable of note for a reason.

CH: The real anti-Semites, the Christian right of the United States, have become a political ally of Israel. It’s the equation of anti-Semitism with opposition to the government of Israel. One of the biggest racists in the Middle East is [Israeli Prime Minister] Bibi Netanyahu.

GG: There’s worse than him waiting in the wings.

CH: Where are we going? It’s a frightening direction if things don’t go right. What are the forces that frighten you? What does the left have to do?

GG: I’ll be honest, I’m not as pessimistic as you. I have faith in the people. I always have. I can only speak for my own people here. We hate fascism. We stood alone against fascism. Anyone who presents in the form of fascism will be rejected here. There’s not a single fascist counselor in Britain, not a single fascist MP in Britain. There never will be. Fascists are counted in the hundreds, not in the millions, like they are in many European countries. They are in almost every parliament in Europe. They’re in many governments in Europe. But they never will be here.

I believe in the chaos of the British political scene at the moment. It’s perfectly possible that the Labour Party could be the next government. Maybe soon. Parliament is in complete chaos over the Brexit issue. It’s one of the reasons I supported Brexit. But not the main reason. Out of that chaos, it may welcome a Jeremy Corbyn-led government. As someone who has known Corbyn well for 40 years, I can hardly believe I’m saying those words.
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🌍 Biarritz was an empty charade. The G7 is a relic of a bygone age
« Reply #768 on: August 26, 2019, 11:51:41 AM »
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/26/biarritz-g7-syria-us-china-trade

Biarritz was an empty charade. The G7 is a relic of a bygone age

Simon Tisdall

From Syria to the US-China trade war, the list of issues left untackled by the world’s leaders is shamefully long

Mon 26 Aug 2019 12.40 EDT
Last modified on Mon 26 Aug 2019 13.35 EDT


Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit in Biarritz. Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

The G7 summit in Biarritz, now thankfully concluded, told us a lot about the world we live in. Unfortunately, very little of it was useful or vaguely hopeful. As the presidents and premiers of the world’s wealthiest countries posed for back-slapping group photos, and their partners sampled croissants at a charming “traditional Basque bakery”, fierce fires raged untended and unquenched across the international landscape – not to mention in the Amazon rainforest. It was a low-yield meeting whose main achievement was avoiding a repeat of last year’s bust-up.

It was as though these summiteers, conflabbing while the world burned, belonged to a different, distant era when the US president, for example, was a figure commanding instant respect; when multilateral diplomacy worked; when the postwar internationalist vision was not obscured by nationalist demagoguery; when, if the western democracies decided to do something together, it actually had a good chance of getting done. But those times have passed.

How luxury hotels such as Biarritz’s Hôtel du Palais have helped shape history
Martin Kettle
Martin Kettle
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The summit told us about leadership – or what passes for it these days. For Emmanuel Macron, the understandably frazzled maitre d’, concentrating the minds of so many inflated political egos was more challenging than taming the domestic challenge of les gilets jaunes (yellow vests). France’s president abandoned the usual practice of issuing a joint communiqué. After Donald Trump trashed the last one in Quebec, insulting his hosts, that was probably wise.

Yet Trump is not the only black hole where a leader should be. It’s true Angela Merkel is counting down to retirement in 2021. But any hopes that she would pick up the baton where American leadership has failed since 2016, at least as a champion for Europe, have proved ill-founded. Her cautious, money-minded approach has too often focused instead on reining in Macron’s grander reformist ideas.

A German chancellor might at one time have confidently looked to Britain to add weight and mettle to Europe’s views on, say, Vladimir Putin’s war on domestic political opponents and unchecked disregard for international law in Ukraine and Syria. But Boris Johnson, while agreeing Russia’s president should not be readmitted to the G7, exhibits scant interest in, let alone leadership on, such difficult issues. His “keep Trump happy” policy shows how low, and how quickly, Britain is sinking.

Others gathered round the table at Biarritz are not much better. Where is the leader who will stand up and tell Trump, to his face, that his incendiary bid to bring Iran to its knees will not work – and cannot be supported? Who will tell Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, whose forces attacked no fewer than three regional neighbours – Iraq, Lebanon and Syria – at the weekend, to stop stoking regional fires in the hope of winning re-election next month?

What has the G7 got to say about the reduction of the UN security council to a state of feeble impotence, where Russian and Chinese (and sometimes US) vetoes prevent effective action to mitigate humanitarian disasters such as the Saudi-led war in Yemen or the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar? What about the atrocities daily visited upon besieged Syrian civilians in Idlib? And where is the G7 clubbers’ masterplan for rescuing the global economy from a trade war-driven recession? No China, no comment – while Trump shifts shiftily almost by the hour.

The shaming list of roads not travelled, of issues not tackled, of calamities ignored or dodged, is all but endless. To this must be added the accelerating US-China-Russia nuclear arms race and the environmental impact of great power rivalries in the Arctic. To his credit, and to the annoyance of Trump officials who deemed it a “niche issue”, Macron gained support for collective action on the Amazon. As with previous G7 pledges, follow-through is what matters now. Having outwardly responded to the public clamour, what will actually be done? The $20m aid package announced today to help Amazon countries fight wildfires appears, frankly, on the low side.

The west takes its eyes off Africa at its peril
Larry Elliott
Larry Elliott
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The summit inadvertently told us, too, about multilateralism and the fabled rules-based international order – and how these always flawed systems of global governance, symbolised by the G7 since the 1970s, may be on their last legs. That’s due in large part to the refusal of emerging 21st-century powers, principally China but also lesser states, to abide by other people’s rules ill-suited to their purposes.

It’s due to a broad upsurge, in Europe and elsewhere, of rightwing, populist nationalism that has shaken the centrist consensus and is typified by the rise and rise of Matteo Salvini in Italy – and by Brexit. It is due to a failure of confidence among post-2008 western democracies which are beset by austerity and widening wealth and trust gaps. Multilateralism’s atrophy is due, too, to multiple betrayals by Trump’s America.

Yet if the Biarritz summit told us fairly conclusively that the G7 is no longer fit for purpose, what if anything can replace it? The paradox of our age is that the world has never been more connected, yet the political tools for acting collectively in pursuit of common purposes are increasingly ineffective. Scrap the G7 and expand the G20, making it a more genuinely inclusive forum? Reboot the UN, either by reforming the security council or making the general assembly its primary decision-making body? Or start again from scratch?

A fundamental rethink may be unavoidable, given that the US will host next year’s G7. Trump is certain to manipulate the meeting for political and personal advantage, reducing other leaders to walk-on extras in his noxious re-election drama. It’s time to think again about who rules the world, and how – while there’s still a world left to rule.

• Simon Tisdall is a foreign affairs commentator
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🌍 The United States: A Nation on Suicide Watch
« Reply #769 on: September 11, 2019, 05:33:06 AM »
https://www.globalresearch.ca/united-states-suicide-watch/5688232

The United States: A Nation on Suicide Watch
By John Stanton
Global Research, September 07, 2019
Region: USA
Theme: Intelligence, US NATO War Agenda

“The Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan required major shifts in national resources from civilian to military purposes and contributed to the growth of the budget deficit and public debt. Through FY 2018, the direct costs of the wars will have totaled more than $1.9 trillion, according to US Government figures.

Pollution is a serious issue. The United States (US)  is a “large emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels; deals with water pollution from runoff of pesticides and fertilizers; has limited natural freshwater resources in much of the western part of the country that require careful management.

Deforestation; mining; desertification; species conservation; and invasive species (the Hawaiian Islands are particularly vulnerable) are widespread.

Long-term problems for the US include stagnation of wages for lower-income families, inadequate investment in deteriorating infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, energy shortages, and sizable current account and budget deficits.”

“The onrush of technology has been a driving factor in the gradual development of a “two-tier” labor market in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits.

But the globalization of trade, and especially the rise of low-wage producers such as China, has put additional downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on the return to capital. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. Since 1996, dividends and capital gains have grown faster than wages or any other category of after-tax income…

In December 2017, Congress passed and President Donald TRUMP signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which, among its various provisions, reduces the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%; lowers the individual tax rate for those with the highest incomes from 39.6% to 37%, and by lesser percentages for those at lower income levels…

The new taxes took effect on 1 January 2018; the tax cut for corporations are permanent, but those for individuals are scheduled to expire after 2025. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) under the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the new law will reduce tax revenues and increase the federal deficit by about $1.45 trillion over the 2018-2027 period.”

***

Are those the words of some left wing liberal publication or fake news from the mainstream media or conspiracy tinfoil hats?

No, they are excerpts from the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) 2019 World Factbook, an unflinching look at all the planet’s nations and their political systems, military expenditures, resources and internal and transnational troubles.

We’re Number One! We’re Number One!

Yes, indeed, the US has real problems, not imagined, as Republicans, Democrats and those with “Star Spangled Eyes” like to claim otherwise. “The US is the greatest country in history with the world’s most powerful military. God Bless America!” they shout out or proclaim after every speech.

Perhaps at one point in history’s past the nation had a shot to be the greatest of all time, at least in this solar system. Maybe that could have come after WW II, or the end of the Vietnam War, or even the largely successful Civil Rights movement. But now the country and its people are delusional in thinking that “everything’s groovy”.

What’s to worry about? Gas prices are low, the National Football League season is underway and the Major League Baseball playoffs are just around the corner. What fun to watch these sporting events as military aircraft fly overhead and 20-something millionaires run around the baseball diamond or up and down the football field in stadiums, by the way,  largely financed by the public. Who cares about lead infused water in Newark, New Jersey; Flint and Detroit, Michigan; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?

And what can be said about the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Where’s the victory to put in the US “Win” column? The American public has largely forgotten these tragic conflicts save those whose families have made a sacrifice. But sacrifice for what? Testing out new equipment, technology and war fighting doctrine? The War on Terror has siphoned off cash badly needed for US infrastructure repairs and has taken the lives of thousands of Americans.

Yes, it is correct that there has been no repeat of the 911 attacks, but the US is dealing with its own home grown terrorist problem: active shooters. Is the US military going to start hunting them down here like they do Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East and Africa?

Hell on Earth

Pre-emptive Nuclear War: The Role of Israel in Triggering an Attack on Iran

At any rate, the only maniacs who want US personnel to remain in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, three hell-holes created, in part, by the US, are zealous military leaders,  defense contractors/suppliers, corrupt officials the US has propped up in the three countries, and black market operators eager to steal American weapons and sell them to the Taliban or groups like the Islamic State.

Oh, and let’s not forget that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (the Baron Harkonenn of the US government) and his boss President Donald Trump who are eager for war with Iran (which borders Iraq and Afghanistan, among other nations). That push has already started with the US exiting from the nuclear accord with Iran (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) in May 2018. The Trump administration has since unleashed punishing economic sanctions, and has adopted a blind-support policy for Israel and the bloodthirsty Saudis who would like nothing better than to have the US go to war with Iran. Yes, lets “do Iran” if not by direct military action then through subterfuge and dicey intelligence likely to be used to justify an ill-advised invasion.

The attack-Iran crowd has been singing the same old tune for at least 40 years now and it should have long ago been dust-binned. But here we are, again, moving toward the precipice of conflict.

According to the National Iranian American Council,

    “The past 40 years in U.S.-Iran relations have been riddled with missed opportunities. While the Iranians and Clinton administration failed to initiate serious dialogue after Mohammad Khatami’s election, the George W. Bush administration pocketed Tehran’s assistance after the U.S.invasion of Afghanistan, put the country in its “axis of evil,” and ignored its offer for a grand bargain. Under the Trump administration, however, we are likely witnessing the greatest missed opportunity in four decades: a failure to capitalize on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka the Iran nuclear deal.”

War planners in the US have already sorted through all the airstrike contingencies and have plans, classified of course, for air/missile strikes. But you need not wait for the day when the aircraft and missiles take to the skies over Iran and the talking heads from left, right and center media rant and rave about a brand new war, or retired generals show up to blather about this and that weapon system. Prepare yourself now. Be an educated armchair warrior by reviewing Anthony Cordesman’s “Options in Dealing with Iran’s Nuclear Program. It addresses the use of conventional and nuclear weapons by the US and Israel.

What’s the Frequency Kenneth?

It is  commonplace for Americans to lionize US military leaders and look to them as calming voices, counterweights to warmongering government officials and their advisors. Ironic, isn’t it? Can we look to our divine US military leaders to change the current thinking of the war hawks in the administration, Congress and the think tanks that dot the Washington, DC Metro region?

Nope.

Consider this review by William Bacevich, a decorated combat veteran, of the newest US Central Command boss, Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie. McKenzie’s area of responsibility (AOR) includes Iran.

    “General Kenneth McKenzie became the twenty-fourth commander of CENTCOM (more formally known as United States Central Command). On May 8, at an event sponsored by the Institute for the Perpetuation of War and the Promotion of Regime Change, more formally known as the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), he outlined his plans for building on the legacy of his 23 predecessors.  None of those predecessors, it should be acknowledged, succeeded in accomplishing his assigned mission. Nor, I’m willing to bet, will he.

    The essence of that mission, according to General McKenzie himself, is to promote stability. “A stable Middle East underpins a stable world,” he announced, and “our steady commitment to our allies and partners provides a force for stability.” As to how the region became unstable in the first place, he offers no opinion, leaving listeners with the impression that previous exertions by CENTCOM forces in invading, occupying, bombing, and otherwise spilling blood throughout his Area of Responsibility (AOR) had nothing to do with the absence of stability existing there today…This much seems clear: To listen to McKenzie, Iran is the ultimate source of all evil. To cite just one example, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the general charges that “at least 600 US personnel deaths in Iraq were the result of Iran-backed militants.” This was indeed nefarious, and one is hard-pressed to think of a comparable episode in recent military history, although US support for Saddam Hussein pursuant to his war of aggression against Iran might fill the bill.”

Don’t Bogart that Joint My Friend

How are we faring in that other Long War, the War on Drugs?

The Office of National Drug Control and Policy’s (ONDCP) 2019 National Drug Control Strategy document describes the massive US local, state, and federal machinery set up to defeat drug trafficking organizations from getting their products to US streets and into the bodies of American citizens.

    “The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program provides assistance to law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States. HIDTAs provide an umbrella to coordinate Federal, state, local, and tribal drug law enforcement agencies’ investigations, and act as neutral centers to manage, de-conflict, analyze, provide intelligence, and execute drug enforcement activities in their respective regions. With the recent inclusion of Alaska, the first new HIDTA in 17 years, the 29 regional HIDTAs now include designated areas in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. The regional HIDTAs bring together more than 21,000 Federal, state, local, and tribal personnel from 500 agencies through 800 enforcement, intelligence, and training initiatives, all designed to disrupt illicit drug trafficking and dismantle criminal and drug trafficking organizations.”

The US military, of course, plays a key role in the US War on Drugs, supporting HIDTA’s among other activities. Take, for example, US Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) role in the Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-South).  A 2005 briefing by former US Coast Rear Admiral Jeffrey Hathaway shows that no less than 14 agencies worked, and likely still do, chasing down illicit drugs in the SOUTHCOM AOR. These include the National Security Agency; the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines; the US Coast Guard,  and the National Reconnaissance Office, among others. According to one of Hathaway’s slides, every step involved in JIATF-South operations from interdiction to prosecution leads to intelligence. That is an interesting point. So 14 years later and all the intelligence collected has led to what, exactly?

Let’s revisit the CIA’s 2019 World Factbook for a read on how the War on Drugs effort is going.

    The US is the “world’s largest consumer of cocaine (shipped from Colombia through Mexico and the Caribbean), Colombian heroin, and Mexican heroin and marijuana; a major consumer of ecstasy and Mexican methamphetamine; a minor consumer of high-quality Southeast Asian heroin; an illicit producer of cannabis, marijuana, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, and methamphetamine. It is also a money-laundering center.”

Great!

This piece could go on and on citing data from a myriad of sources showing, among other things, the 500% growth rate of the US prison population, income inequality according to the Gini Coefficient which sees the US (41.5) right near Iran (40), or that one in six children in the US live in hunger. But, hey! The stock market is up, unemployment is down, and the dollar menu at McDonald’s is fabulous.

The forever wars on Drugs and Terror, or the trumped up wars to come; income equality; homelessness; hunger, infrastructure collapse and the fracturing of US society into tribes is clearly a nationwide social, political and cultural sickness: perhaps mental illness. Even the Internet/World Wide Web, once viewed as a global unifying/liberating force for change/good has become what is termed the Splinternet, reflecting large in-group fanaticism, censorship and a polarization of political beliefs. It is now polluted with advertisements just as radio and television are.

But there’s still time left on the clock to change the direction of the country. Who or what will do that and when it will happen I’m not sure. But I take heart in Robert F. Kennedy’s insight below that there are many who long to make “life worthwhile” for everyone in America, once again.

    “For Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product…if we should judge the United States of America by that—counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

    Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”

*

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John Stanton is a Virginia based writer. Reach him at jstantonarchangel@gmail.com. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
The original source of this article is Global Research
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🌍 Is the US Political System Beyond Repair?
« Reply #770 on: October 03, 2019, 01:33:16 AM »
Yes.

RE

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/10/02/is-the-us-political-system-beyond-repair/

October 2, 2019
Is the US Political System Beyond Repair?
by Ron Jacobs


Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Moving ahead with the impeachment of Donald Trump is a good idea. Indeed, the fact that it is moving forward is a sign of the deep fissures in the ruling class. They are very divided. Even if it is done within the limited parameters hoped for by Pelosi and other mainstream Democrats, the process should expose the criminality of one party of the ruling class and the venality of both.

Despite the claim by some, the impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump and others in his administration is not just cosmetic. Furthermore, because it is part of a process to ensure the government continues—to repair it, if you will—impeachment will not change the system.

However, it can remove Donald Trump and his band of fascists from the seat of power. The fact an inquiry was called by Rep. Pelosi is an indication of just how deep the divisions amongst the ruling elites are. Consequently, the Left should not be diminishing its seriousness or dismissing its potential to expose the criminal nature of the system.

Trump is the third of the last nine presidents to face the possibility of impeachment. Both he and Nixon’s crimes were/are related to the electoral process which, as any observer can tell you, is an easily corruptible process. Trump, like Nixon, is attempting to remake the entire US government into a tool of his wing of the ruling class. It is also the most reactionary and racist element. So was Nixon’s. The difference is the political situation each man faced. Nixon was president in a time when FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society programs had redistributed some of the ruling class wealth to the rest of the US population. In addition, and perhaps because of these programs, a broader swath of the population was politically involved.  Trump rules in a period where that wealth is concentrated among a smaller percentage of society than ever before, thanks to a continuous theft by the rich of the wealth US working people produce. It is a theft that is intentional and it is a theft in which the US government is a willing accomplice. Richard Nixon’s campaign and presidential rule could easily be considered the first victory in the battle to regain that wealth.  Every president and Congress since his resignation continued to play a role in that process.  From the deregulation of banking and the airlines under Carter to the privatization of numerous departments in federal agencies under every successive president; the ongoing tax breaks to the rich and the intensified financialization of the economy, the war of the ruling class on the rest of the population has not relented.

Obviously, a departure of Trumpists (with Trump leading the way) from DC will not end that war.  It could provide some breathing room.  If the left is to play a meaningful role in the post-Trumpist reality if and when it comes, then it cannot look at the necessary impeachment of Trump like the Democrats do. Impeachment is not going to change the nature of the US political system, make the economy fairer or end racism.  At the same time, ignoring or dismissing impeachment because it’s “cosmetic” or just a rearranging of the deck chairs would be a serious misinterpretation of its potential.  The impeachment process is a chance to expose the system itself. The specifics of the charge regarding Trump’s abuse of presidential powers in the Ukraine conversations can only lead to an exposure of his other crimes of corruption.  In addition, the fact that he is not alone in his administration in the abuse of power and the coverup of that abuse could create a situation never before reached in US politics: Trump, his Vice President and other members of his administration could all be forced out before the 2020 elections.  Furthermore, there is the potential that the issues of Ukraine and corruption connected to the Democratic candidate preferred by the Party’s right wing—Joe Biden—could mean the end of his run.

This is what I mean when I write that the impeachment process and all the noise it creates is an excellent chance to expose the nature of the US political system. It is corrupt not because those who enter are necessarily corrupt, but because it serves the ruling elites whose power and riches are based on two fundamental realities: the exploitation of working people and resources and the greed the profits from that exploitation create.  It is the rare politician who does not give in to the corruption the system demands. It is an even rarer businessperson who does not.

If Trump is not forced from office, it does not mean he is not guilty.  It means the system is beyond repair.
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🌍 Donald Trump’s Iran Humiliation
« Reply #771 on: October 13, 2019, 02:07:18 AM »
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/donald-trumps-iran-humiliation/

Oct 08, 2019

Donald Trump’s Iran Humiliation



Carolyn Kaster / AP

Exactly 17 months have passed since President Donald Trump precipitously withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action, or JCPOA. Two and a half months later, on July 22, 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech to a group of Iranian expatriates at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, in Simi Valley, California. “[T]he United States,” Pompeo said, “is undertaking a diplomatic and financial pressure campaign to cut off the funds that the regime uses to enrich itself and support death and destruction.” The crowd launched into generous applause, after which Pompeo delivered his main point. “We have an obligation to put maximum pressure on the regime’s ability to generate and move money, and we will do so.”

The Trump administration, Pompeo stated, would reimpose sanctions on Iran’s banking and energy sectors. “
  • ur focus,” he concluded, “is to work with countries importing Iranian crude oil to get imports as close to zero as possible by Nov. 4, [2018]. Zero.”


The ostensible purpose of the “maximum pressure” campaign was to get Iran to withdraw from the JCPOA and return to the negotiating table, where a new, more restrictive agreement would be crafted that eliminated its nuclear enrichment program, curtailed its ballistic missile program and reduced its influence in the Persian Gulf. However, given Pompeo’s embrace of the regime-change mantra of the Iranian expat community—a sentiment he shared with Trump’s then-national security adviser John Bolton—the “maximum pressure” campaign could only be interpreted as an act of economic warfare against Iran, as prelude to an eventual military campaign designed to remove the Shi’a theocracy that has ruled the country since assuming power in 1979. Bolton himself emphasized this when he stated in November 2018 that “t is our intention to squeeze them very hard. As the British say: ‘Squeeze them until the pips squeak’.”

In April 2019, the U.S. State Department announced it would not be extending any waivers that it had granted to several of Iran’s key oil importers in an effort to ease the economic burden of being weaned off Iranian oil. “We are fulfilling our promise to get Iran’s oil exports to zero and deny the regime the revenue it needs to fund terrorism and violent wars abroad,” a State Department fact sheet noted. The State Department was particularly concerned about Iran’s so-called “malign activities” in Lebanon in support of Hezbollah, in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, and in Yemen in support of the Houthi rebels. The “maximum pressure” campaign was designed to starve these movements of Iranian financial support, thereby hastening the nation’s demise.

For a year following Trump’s May 8, 2018, exit from the JCPOA, Iran complied with its obligations under that agreement, adhering to every restriction while imploring the agreement’s other parties to honor their commitments and ignore the newly reimposed U.S. economic sanctions. This proved increasingly difficult as the U.S. treated any nation or company that used the U.S. banking system to facilitate a transaction with Iran in violation of its terms. As a result, in May 2019, Iran began suspending its commitments under the JCPOA, something it (rightfully) claimed was permitted under the terms of the JCPOA in the case of noncompliance by a party to the agreement. (Iran claimed, with justification, that the EU was in noncompliance by failing to permit the unrestricted sale of Iranian oil to EU customers.) The U.S. responded by dispatching two B-52 bombers and an aircraft carrier battlegroup to the region, an action Bolton claimed was intended to “send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.” By all appearances, it looked as if the U.S. campaign of “maximum pressure” was about to enter its final phase.

This is where the narrative gets interesting. Rather than retreat in the face of U.S. military pressure, Iran doubled down. Months before, in December 2018, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had warned that “America should know that we are selling our oil and will continue to sell our oil and they are not able to stop our oil exports. If one day they want to prevent the export of Iran’s oil, then no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf.” At the time, the Trump administration saw Rouhani’s statement as empty bluster. It wasn’t.

On May 12, 2019, four oil tankers, including two belonging to the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia, were attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz. While no one claimed responsibility for the attacks, the U.S. was quick to blame Iran, which denied all responsibility. Oil prices jumped nearly 3% as a result. On June 13, two additional oil tankers were attacked while transiting the Strait of Hormuz; the U.S. claimed the vessels were attacked using limpet mines, while the crews claimed they were struck by projectiles. Again, the U.S. blamed Iran, and the Iranians denied all responsibility. Oil prices surged.

Whether or not Iran was involved, these attacks sent a clear signal to the oil-consuming world— transit through the Strait of Hormuz, through which some 18.5 million barrels a day of crude and refined products pass, representing 20% of all oil produced globally, was not guaranteed. This point was reinforced when, on June 20, Iran shot down a U.S. Global Hawk drone it claimed had violated its airspace. The loss of the $130-million reconnaissance aircraft put the U.S. on war footing, with Bolton advocating a retaliatory air strike against Iran’s air defenses and nuclear installations. The Pentagon cautioned Trump that any U.S. attack would likely result in a massive Iranian retaliation that would threaten the oil production infrastructure of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the other Gulf Arab states. Trump opted not to attack, avoiding a wider war, but in doing so left open the question as to the viability of U.S. military deterrence posture in the Persian Gulf. This turned out to be precisely the answer Iran was looking for.

Saudi Arabia had always been a major factor in the “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. One of the foundational requirements for a successful U.S. effort targeting Iranian oil sales was for oil markets to remain well supplied and oil inventory levels to remain consistently strong. “We have commitments from oil-producing countries,” the State Department noted in April 2019, “including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to increase oil production to offset reductions in Iranian oil exports.” On June 20, in the midst of the crisis over the downing of the U.S. drone, the special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, visited Saudi Arabia to discuss next steps. “We affirmed the Kingdom’s support for the United States maximum pressure campaign on Iran,” the Saudi Vice Minister of Defense, Khalid bin Salman, tweeted after the talks concluded, “which came as a result of continuing Iranian hostility and terrorism, and discussed the latest Iranian attacks on the Kingdom. Also discussed with the United States Special Representative for Iran the dangerous role that the Iranian regime plays in Yemen, where it neglects the humanitarian needs of the Yemeni people in favor of using the country as the main launchpad for its regional terrorism.”

The ongoing war between Saudi Arabia and Houthi rebels in Yemen has been a sore point between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, especially in the aftermath of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist, by henchmen operating under the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Sultan. The humanitarian crisis that has befallen Yemen as a result of the invasion in 2015 has caught the attention of a U.S. Congress no longer willing to turn a blind eye to Saudi atrocities. In March 2019, Congress voted to suspend all U.S. military aid to Saudi Arabia’s war effort in Yemen. While the measure was vetoed by Trump, the vote was a stinging rebuke to the Saudis, who had taken continuous and unobstructed U.S. military aid as a given.

But rhetoric alone does not win the day. The problem for the United States has been that its campaign of “maximum pressure” has had zero impact on Iran’s so-called “malign activities” in the region. In July 2019, Iran test fired a ballistic missile with a range of more than 1,000 kilometers. A defiant Iranian spokesperson tweeted that “Iran’s missiles are absolutely and under no condition negotiable with anyone or any country, period.”

The Iranian missile test came amid a growing crisis between Iran and the United Kingdom over the tit-for-tat seizure of oil tankers. In early July, British Royal Marines boarded and took control of the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, claiming that its load of oil was destined for Syria in violation of EU sanctions. Iran responded by boarding and seizing the British oil tanker, Stena Impero, as it navigated the Strait of Hormuz.

Complicating matters further was Iran’s announcement in early July that it was suspending another JCPOA-imposed limitation on its nuclear program, breaching the 3.67% cap on the level of uranium enrichment allowed under the agreement. As the world debated Iran’s suspension of JCPOA commitments, its ongoing tanker war with the U.K., and its testing of ballistic missiles, another front was opening that would test the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign like no other.

The first rumblings of trouble came in May 2019, when the Saudis reported that Houthi drones operating out of Yemen had struck a strategic oil pipeline and two oil pumping stations, causing minor damage. “This is a message to Saudi Arabia: Stop your aggression,” a Houthi spokesman declared afterward. “Our goal is to respond to the crimes they are committing every day against the Yemeni people.”

In August, as if to prove the May attacks were not a fluke, the Houthi launched an even larger attack against the Shaybah natural gas liquification facility, some 1,000 kilometers from the border with Yemen, using 10 drones. The attack, which caused minor damage, was condemned by Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the U.S. A Houthi spokesman promised “fiercer and larger attacks” against Saudi Arabia if it continued its aggression in Yemen. Left unanswered was how the Houthi were able to penetrate Saudi Arabian air defenses and strike critical oil-related infrastructure.

The Houthi attacks of the Shaybah facility were lost in a news cycle increasingly dominated by evidence of the “maximum pressure” campaign’s imminent collapse. The first sign of failure was the decision by the British to release the Grace 1, despite efforts by the U.S. to execute a warrant for arrest en rem. The British defiance of the U.S. was part of an overall posture of resentment on the part of Europe over U.S. sanctions against Iran and the resulting unraveling of the JCPOA. The growing divide between the U.S. and Europe was put on full display when French President Emmanuel Macron invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif to attend the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, despite having recently been singled out for sanctions by the U.S. government. While no agreement was forthcoming, the fact that Iran was talking with its European counterparts meant that negotiation, and not confrontation, was the preferred path for America’s EU partners.

This divide became even more apparent in September when the Iranians followed through on their promise to continue to withdraw from the terms of the JCPOA. While stressing that all of its actions were reversible the moment Europe came into compliance with the deal and started defying U.S. sanctions, these actions were particularly eye-opening as Iran began installing advanced centrifuges capable of more efficient uranium enrichment, closing the one-year “breakout” period that served as the foundation for the nuclear pact. (The “breakout” period is defined by the amount of time Iran would need to enrich enough weapons-grade uranium for the production of a single nuclear weapon; if Iran put the new centrifuges into operation, it would shrink the “breakout window” to a matter of months, which had previously been a red line for the U.S.)

The Iranian action prompted a heated debate within the Trump administration as to how best to respond. Trump had always envisioned himself as a dealmaker and was looking for any opening to bring Iran back to the negotiating table so he could produce a new nuclear agreement. Iran had made it clear there could be no negotiations as long as the U.S. maintained its “maximum pressure” campaign. Macron and the other European leaders were lobbying Trump to come up with some sort of relief formula that could be used to bring Iran back into full compliance with the JCPOA. Trump was leaning toward sanctions relief, believing it might lead to a meeting between him and Iranian leader Rouhani during the United Nations General Assembly debate later that month. Bolton strenuously objected. On September 11, Trump fired Bolton on social media, claiming he “disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions.”

Iran had one more card to play. Three days after Bolton’s dismissal, the Houthi followed up on their threat to continue attacking Saudi oil infrastructure with a bold strike on two Saudi oil processing facilities, inflicting massive damage that knocked out 50% of Saudi Arabia’s oil production capacity, or some 6% of global oil supplies. Saudi oil production was the lynchpin to the “maximum pressure” campaign; without it, there was no means of offsetting the loss of Iranian oil production brought on by sanctions. Moreover, the ease with which the Houthi had destroyed Saudi oil production infrastructure highlighted the future of all Gulf Arab oil production should there be a general war with Iran. In one fell swoop, Iran, through its Houthi proxies, had laid bare the naked truth about the U.S-Saudi defense relationship: There was literally nothing the U.S. could do, despite investing hundreds of billions of dollars into the Saudi military, and deploying hundreds of billions of dollars more in terms of U.S. military forces into the region, to protect the life’s blood of the Saudi Kingdom—oil. The U.S. decision to deploy a single Patriot surface-to-air missile battery and three air defense radars to protect Saudi oil fields from further attack was nothing more than a face-saving measure; while both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for the attack, no one could pinpoint where the attack originated from, meaning they had no idea how to defend themselves against any future incursion.

The Houthi drone attack proved to be the final nail in the coffin of the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Saudi Arabia, recognizing the precarious position it has found itself in, has greenlighted talks with Iran to resolve their regional differences. Despite an abortive effort to finesse a meeting between Trump and Rouhani at the U.N. General Assembly, both the U.S. and Iran appear prepared to engage in negotiations once Iran’s conditions regarding the lifting of sanctions are met, something the EU strongly supports. If Trump’s goal in implementing the “maximum pressure” campaign was to eventually bring Iran to the negotiating table, then he may very well have succeeded. But history will show that it was Iran that set the conditions that brought the U.S. onboard, and not the other way around.

In May 2018, the myth of American military deterrence in defense of Saudi Arabia was still alive; today it lies shattered amidst the ruins of the destroyed Saudi oil facilities. Seen in this light, the collapse of the U.S. campaign of “maximum pressure” can only be interpreted as a strategic victory for Iran, and a decisive defeat for the United States.

Scott Ritter
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Scott Ritter spent more than a dozen years in the intelligence field, beginning in 1985 as a ground intelligence officer with the US Marine Corps, where he served with the Marine Corps component of the Rapid…
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🌍 The American Villain Who Gave Us Donald Trump
« Reply #772 on: October 13, 2019, 04:15:50 AM »
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-american-villain-who-gave-us-donald-trump/

Oct 11, 2019
Opinion
|
Scheer Intelligence
The American Villain Who Gave Us Donald Trump


Roy Cohn. (The Associated Press)


There is a common link between Joseph McCarthy, Ronald Reagan, Roger Stone and Donald Trump, and that link is a lawyer named Roy Cohn. From a young age, the wealthy, well-connected New Yorker was already involved in influencing decisions such as Ethel Rosenberg’s death sentence in 1953, and was Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel during the during the Army-McCarthy hearings, as well as his co-conspirator in what’s known as the Lavender Scare. In the 1980s, Nancy Reagan apparently even called Cohn to thank him for getting her husband elected to office. And although the lawyer died in 1986, he might even deserve the credit for minting another president: Donald Trump, his protégé.

Yet despite lurking manipulatively behind right-wing figures who shaped modern-day America, Cohn is not a household name. That might change once more people watch the bone-chilling documentary “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” Its director, Matt Tyrnauer, spoke with Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer on the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence.”

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/lTrHL7Vo_SQ" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/lTrHL7Vo_SQ</a>


In a broad conversation about the impact of Cohn, traced throughout the film, the Truthdig editor in chief argues that the most impactful part of “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” is the question of a specific brand of American evil, and whether Cohn or Trump could be labeled as such.

“Cohn, I would say, is a malign Zelig,” Tyrnauer responds to Scheer. “He turns up, creating trouble and kind of attaching like a leech to all of these events that have a dark cast throughout the 20th century, beginning with the Rosenbergs and McCarthy.

“Sometimes I think [evil] flares up when you shine a light on it, and it’s like lifting up the rock and putting a flashlight onto a wormscape,” the film director goes on to say. “It’s frightening. And I think we’re in a particular time now whereby a strange quirk in our Constitution, someone who shouldn’t be there has attained the presidency who happened to be the mentee of Roy Cohn, which is why we’re sitting here talking about this.”

Cohn’s connection to Trump, as Tyrnauer points out, is the driving force behind the need to know more about this seedy figure who may have otherwise been forgotten. Certainly, his malevolent impact, whether it can be described as evil or not, is being felt today in the current U.S. president’s modus operandus, but also, more importantly, in Trump’s existence as a public figure to begin with.

“In New York, in the mid-century, these two guys found each other,” explains Tyrnauer. “And Trump, who was a young, outer-borough rich kid on the make, ends up with Roy Cohn as his consiglieri, basically. And Trump wasn’t anything at the time.

“[Gore] Vidal called this ‘the United States of amnesia,’ so of course people don’t remember Cohn. People don’t remember McCarthy,” the film director continues. “So the movie connects the dots. We’re in a demagogic moment in our country right now that is, I think, something of a surprise to a lot of people because it’s so acute. It happens that the person who created Trump, and taught him all he knows about how to manipulate the press and the body politic, is the same person who was at McCarthy’s side.”

Listen to the full conversation between Tyrnauer and Scheer as they talk about the documentary “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” and the incredible series of events shaped by one man who, essentially, as Tyrnauer concludes, created a president from the grave. You can also read a transcript of the interview below the media player and find past episodes of “Scheer Intelligence”here.

—Introduction by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

Robert Scheer: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of “Scheer Intelligence,” an obnoxious title given to me, but nonetheless I justify it by saying the intelligence comes from my guests. And in this case it’s Matt Tyrnauer, a very well-known writer in the past for Vanity Fair, author of a number of important articles and movies that you’ve probably heard about. Valentino: The Last Emperor, that was nominated for an Oscar; and Citizen Jane, about Jane Jacobs, a great book, film about the battle for New York City. Scotty and the Secret [History] of Hollywood, and Studio 54, which has got a lot of attention. But I think this current movie, Where’s My Roy Cohn?, is really critically important. And important to understanding who–what is the devil amongst us? What is this capacity for evil? And I’m not talking about President Trump specifically, although he’s connected in the movie, because you argue sort of that he’s a protégé, and you can go into that.

But I don’t think the movie belabored that connection, and I don’t think the movie should be judged on the connection with Trump. I mean, it’s a good hook to get people to go to the studio, and people who dislike Trump–I’m sure many of the people listening to this have reasons of their own for disliking him; they’ll find an additional one. And is he a product of Trump? I’ll let you answer that in any which way.

That’s not what I found valuable about this movie. I find there’s a conceit that when we dislike someone like Roy Cohn–and I certainly spent much of my life appropriately disliking him, although I did meet him on a few occasions and so forth. And as when you meet anybody, I’ve interviewed people from all over the world–in person, they usually are quite presentable and charming and everything else, till you look at their record or actually think. I’m sure you’ve had that experience. But when I came away from this movie, it was really an incredible education. Because I–and I don’t know if you intended this–but I concluded that Roy Cohn was not a particularly evil force in American life. That he really–first of all, they use this term “agency” a lot. He wasn’t that serious a source of power. Other people found him convenient, including mob figures that he represented later, and Joe McCarthy, or people who were trying to rev up the Cold War in extreme ways.

And he enjoyed it, and he was hateful in his attitudes. I mean for instance, for people who don’t know, he was instrumental during the early years in building the case against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. And in your film he actually–and it’s well known by now that Ethel Rosenberg really was dragged into this in order to break Julius. We even have, Judge Kaufman has revealed this; I even did a piece for the L.A. Times once on Kaufman and some of the documents that came out. And so really the, you know, whatever else you think about it, dragging Ethel into it was an attempt, again, to distort what happened. And in your movie he said, you have him in some scene somewhere saying he would have liked to pull the switch. And so yes, I mean, you know, I did feel when I–I don’t want to turn people off the movie by saying I felt I needed a shower after watching the movie, because it’s not like that. You’re exposed to evil, but you don’t drown in it. And what I found satisfying, really, was the rejection of Roy Cohn by just about everybody. He didn’t go over.

And the other thing I thought, and then I’ll turn it over to you–I thought he was a product of history, rather than the other way around. First of all, I mean, something your documentary goes into, he was a gay man. And people forget the gay–you know, Stonewall happened in 1969; it didn’t even benefit from the sixties, let alone the fifties. So he went through a very rough time of being in the closet, beyond anybody’s belief that he was in the closet. And he was homophobic, as there were quite a few conservatives–I forget the congressman from Maryland, Bauman, Robert Bauman or something, was particularly vicious in legislation. Everything turned out to be gay, was arrested in a gay bar and so forth.

But when I came away from your film–and as I say, I’ve given too long an introduction here, but I found it a very interesting film–he didn’t invent a very primitive anticommunism which was his ticket to ride. As he himself pointed out, wait a minute, blame Truman, blame other people. That’s not me. You know, he happened to land with McCarthy, and he enjoyed it, and he went for it. But he was not the inventor of a very simplistic view of the Cold War. And you have Gore Vidal in this movie really sort of tearing it apart in a number of ways, as he did in his books–that in fact, this whole mythology of communism being totally unified, and that they could control everything, which of course has been denied by history.

We have two surviving communist countries in Vietnam and China–and I’ve said this ad nauseum on the show–are fighting for shelf space in Costco and Walmart, and fighting over some islands in the Pacific. So it was always given to nationalism; it was always going to fragment and so forth. And you know, so the scenes in your movie where Cohn is advancing that position, we forget that was the dominant position of the American establishment. It was actually the editorial position of the New York Times.

Matt Tyrnauer: Yes. So, but Cohn, I would say, is a malign Zelig. [Laughs] He turns up, creating trouble and kind of attaching like a leech to all of these events that have a dark cast throughout the 20th century, beginning with the Rosenbergs and McCarthy. Yes, it was the dominant position, but McCarthy was the, perhaps the worst actor of that period. It’s called the McCarthy era, it’s the byword for it. And there was Cohn by his side, whispering in his ear. And I don’t think McCarthy was the sharpest knife in the drawer, so he needed a Roy Cohn to guide him, and nefariously lead him into more successful demagoguery. So I see him in the fifties as a very ambitious attorney, first as a junior prosecutor on the Rosenberg case, who really does an ex parte deal with the judge, Irving Kaufman, to lead Ethel to the electric chair; that was Roy Cohn. Not nice.

RS: So spell that out a little bit. Because that’s a piece of history that I think your movie captures better than almost anyone has. And you’ve benefited from disclosures, documents have come out, and so forth. But a lot of people listening just don’t even know what we’re talking about with the Rosenberg case. So it was a seminal moment, and it shaped what happened after; intimidated many democrats, and people who otherwise would have–moderate republicans who would have felt differently.

MT: Traumatized the Jewish community, most of whom were democrats. So it had a chilling effect. What was happening at the time–let’s take a half step back. Cohn was from a very rich Jewish family in New York. They owned all these companies; they owned Bank of the United States, Van Heusen shirts, Q-tips, Lionel Trains; he’s a scion of Jewish wealth. He’s also a lawyer, and he’s the son of a judge, so the family was very connected in the clubhouse democratic system of that period. He has this reaction to his liberal democratic family background. He’s really a product of a series of reactions; he’s a reaction to his closeted homosexuality, and he’s a reaction to his Judaism. So in order to make his bones as a young prosecutor, he takes a very staunch anticommunist stance–I think also to separate himself from Bolshevik Jews, which was a slur at the time.

So he wants to prove that he’s the least Bolshevik of any Jew, he’s the least gay of any gay person in the world. So he goes to this extreme position as a junior prosecutor on the Rosenberg spy case, and he has ex parte communications with Judge Irving Kaufman, who was a family friend and part of that Jewish aristocracy or power grid at the time. And the ex parte conversations are about whether Ethel Rosenberg, who was not guilty of espionage, should get the electric chair as a co-conspirator with Julius–who probably was guilty, but it wasn’t such a huge offense of espionage, because the Soviets already had these papers and these secrets he had. Cohn–rather, Kaufman, for some reason, is mesmerized by the young Roy Cohn and communicates with him illegally, off the bench, asking him his advice: What should we do about Ethel? And Cohn’s saying: Give her the chair. And he does. And this–as I show the film, there were riots in the streets. The community, Jewish community and liberal community, were outraged and very, very traumatized by this. And you see this extraordinary rare footage, color footage of tens of thousands of people in Union Square and the streets leading into it, having violent riots, really, to protest this. It makes you wonder where the riots in the streets are today, by the way. Maybe they’re on social media, and maybe they’re more contained; I don’t know. But it was a very disturbing moment, and Roy Cohn was really at the center of it, as a 23-year-old.

RS: Yeah, you should point that out for those who believe strongly in the meritocracy. That despite, or not simply because he was wealthy, he actually probably was very, very smart by standard testing. And he was 19 or something when he graduated from Columbia Law School.

MT: Twenty when he graduates Columbia Law. No matter what you want to say about him, he was clearly brilliant, even a prodigy.

RS: And he passed the bar when he was age-eligible, right? You had to be 21.

MT: He had to wait another year to take the bar, actually.

RS: Yeah. Hey, let me ask you a question. Because–but he is an evil figure, and we’re trying to understand where evil comes from. And one of the difficulties as a journalist–I’m sure you have found this–evil doesn’t always present in the expected form. And he was able to–even, you know, I have great respect for Gore Vidal, who you’ve also written about and everything. But in the exchange you have with Gore Vidal and Roy Cohn, I wouldn’t say Roy Cohn gets the worst of it. He’s able to make logical arguments; he’s able to not be flustered, to sound very plausible. And actually what he was asserting–and this, I keep getting back to this–was the conventional wisdom. It was a bit like Trump now; it’s manners, these guys are boorish, they go too far. You know, they have no decency as well, meaning they’ll kick someone who’s down, and they seem to be enjoying it. But the party line that they were following was really quite conventional.

I know it’s uncomfortable to say that; we think of, you know, a few journalists who dared say some things, and so forth. But in a sense, the whole country was drunk on a view of good and evil in the world, and we could do no evil, including dropping the bombs in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And what he did is he capitalized on that, he said this is a winner position. He was very proud of saying: Maybe in New York you don’t see this, maybe elsewhere; but you go out there in America, they’re all with me.

MT: That’s resonant of Trump, one. Two, our mutual friend Gore Vidal had only bad things to say about Harry Truman, whose reputation has been revived in, you know, the succeeding years after his death. David McCullough’s book and all that, Give ‘em Hell Harry. But Truman, democrat, was–became [a rabid anti-] communist, and really launched the Cold War; then Eisenhower kind of picks up the baton. But if you look at Truman and Eisenhower, they really were within what we now are calling the guardrails of democracy. McCarthy and Cohn were figures who were really, really troublemakers and thugs, basically. And in fact, it was–it was rather Eisenhower who undid McCarthy. He really, like, pulled the foundation out from under him, and while McCarthy was hoisting himself by his own petard in the Army-McCarthy hearings, with Roy Cohn right next to him. But I think that’s the distinction. Yes, it was the conventional position, but there were thugs that were exploiting it, and were acting like gangsters. And J. Edgar Hoover was a part of that cohort, interestingly, along with Cohn and, some said, McCarthy, a closet homosexual.

RS: Yeah, you know, your film gets back to that quite a bit. And I do want to–I wonder whether it’s fair. And not that it’s an attack to say someone’s homosexual. But I mean, I forget–[Dustin Lance] Black’s film J. Edgar, after his very good [movie] Milk, on Harvey Milk. And I thought that was a good movie, but I wondered, first of all, what’s the issue here? Are you saying because they’re homosexual, they are vindictive, or they do other things, or–no, we don’t believe that. What is its relevance?

MT: Oh, I can answer that. [Laughs]

RS: I’m sure you can, and I want you to do that. But I was just thinking in that particular case of Hoover, and maybe you have an answer on that. But it seemed to me, you know, are we saying that because somebody has an unfilled sexual life or contradictions, that’s why they were the G-man that he was? Or was it just that, you know, that’s the role he played, that’s who they were.

MT: The fact of their sexuality is irrelevant. The fact of their hypocrisy is the relevant part. So Hoover ran a national racket that blackmailed people for reasons of their sexuality. Cohn did the same thing in collusion with McCarthy during the Lavender Scare, where they went after gay people in the federal government and the armed forces and destroyed their lives. And Cohn was a gay man who was fomenting this. So that’s the issue. And also, you alluded to this in your introduction, and this is coming from a gay guy to you: Everything has to be contextual, OK. So in the forties and fifties, there was no such thing as an out gay lawyer–an out gay anyone, really. I mean maybe, like, what they called a ribbon clerk in a department store, these people, you know, people who were consigned to menial jobs that were considered OK for gay people, like hairdresser. I mean, this is what the fact of life was for people who were even semi-out.

RS: You could be a poet, you could be Allen Ginsberg “putting my queer shoulder to the wheel” in the 1950s. You could be–I guess Walt Whitman wasn’t out, but was known. Well, Gore Vidal, even–

MT: Gore was, kind of did an interesting dance, but was extremely brave in 1948 when he published The City and the Pillar, which was the novel with an express gay theme.

RS: Yeah. So I take your point, and I think the movie is very clear on this. We’re talking about hypocrisy. And yes, and for people, again, who are not familiar with the McCarthy phenomenon, it was brutal in its destruction of people. And one way it could destroy them was this idea of homosexuals in the State Department; if they weren’t communists, they were homosexuals. And then the inference often is they were both, and then if you had, in third category you would throw Jewish into it. And by the way, I just want to point out one of the first men to come out as openly gay was by a Russian, quite early in the sixties. It’s a congressional hearing where they accused him of being a communist.

And he says, sir, I’m a homosexual, I’m a pacifist, I’m a black man; I don’t care to join any other minorities. And but I remember at the time, you know–and then I, since you are dealing with gay themes in this movie, I do want to raise that question. Because a lot of people listening to this probably don’t know, for all of the great energy of the sixties and challenging so much in life, being gay was not one of the things that were actually challenged. And as I said, Stonewall comes at the end of the sixties and not during it.

MT: I think that’s a great point that is not made enough, actually. And, you know, the hippie movement wasn’t what we would call gay-friendly, particularly. The abstract expressionist artists, for instance, like Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg, were in the closet, really. And it was a, they were in a very macho clique, really, that was more kind of like defined by Jackson Pollock and people that had a macho image like that. So there was a lot of kind of cowing people and forcing them into the closet because they weren’t fitting in. And it’s all through society at that time. So we think of the sixties because of the Civil Rights Movement, principally, but also what we called “women’s lib” at the time, as this kind of great explosion of freedom. But the gay rights, or what used to be called–and Vidal, our friend Vidal hated this, “gay lib,” [Laughs] he despised that term–gay lib movement was much later. There were, of course there were things like the Mattachine Society, and there were all these incredible movements that were happening.

RS: By the way, the library for the Mattachine Society is housed here at USC, or nearby, the ONE–

MT:  The ONE archive, incredible. A great resource. And since we’re here in L.A., we should point out that L.A. was, along with New York, at the vanguard, really, of the movement. San Francisco was actually a little behind in certain ways. It happened not far from here, in Echo Park and Silverlake. But I like that point you’re making. And I think, again, back to Cohn and his sexuality in the fifties, the movie’s not really sympathetic to him. I kind of let him make his own case, in his own words, because he was on TV and in newsreels all throughout his life. So you can see what he had to say about this, and you can see his hypocrisy in his own words. But I really believe you have to understand that context, that he was not going to be out of the closet in that period. However, when I want to look at why J. Edgar Hoover and Roy Cohn had this dark collusion, and we have to understand that, we understand the ways it expressed itself; we understand the very dark path that they took.

 They did not need to persecute gay people. And if they did, they could have apologized for it later in life; they lived many decades after that period where they were doing it. And later in life Cohn has another huge hypocritical, capping moment where he contracts HIV/AIDS and is helped by his friends Ronald and Nancy Reagan, who have the worst record conceivable on the AIDS epidemic. They get him into a special program at the National Institutes of Health, he gets special treatment; still won’t come out of the closet. He could have at that time.

RS: I think he denied he had AIDS, right?

MT: He certainly did. He denied he had AIDS, and he denied he was gay. That would have been a way of repenting, certainly, considering he was getting special treatment. Again, I want to contextualize–having AIDS in the early part of the epidemic was, I mean, it’s always horrendous. But I mean, the stigma was unimaginable now that we have drugs to treat it. It was truly a horrific time. However, he managed to parlay it into a moment of hypocrisy, and the Reagan were involved. So there’s a lot instructional about the legacy, the dark legacy of Cohn.

RS: You know, what’s also instructional is the hypocrisy of so-called conservatives on an issue like gay rights. I mean, I mentioned Bob Bauman, I think was his first name, Robert Bauman, who was a congressman from Maryland, and absolutely vicious in terms of the legislation and his rhetoric and so forth. And then is arrested in a bar, picking up I think a prostitute of some sort. But, and he did finally go through old-school therapy, and then atone and say he was wrong. But in your movie, it’s sort of a subtext in this movie–who is this guy? Now he’s tortured by a number of things. Being in the closet and in an atmosphere–and by the way, we mentioned his being Jewish. The Jewish religion, in certainly its orthodox form, was not supportive of being gay.

MT: I’m Jewish as well. I can tell you that Jews only want grandchildren. I mean, now they can get them through adoption in gay marriage, but like it’s very, very procreation-oriented as a religion.

RS: But the fact is, it’s also that sort of borscht circuit description. But if you look at what is a part of Scripture that is invoked, Leviticus and so forth, to teach us–

MT: It is an abomination.

RS: Yes, it’s not kidding around. And he was, came from the old school, where being in this respectable Jewish circle, you were not supposed to be gay. And you also explore–one thing I didn’t understand about the movie, his mother is constantly referred to as very unattractive. But maybe my standards are broader [Laughs], but I didn’t see that. But maybe in real life she was–

MT: The reason I put that in, is it’s coming from members of her own family. So there was a myth, everyone in the family–I talked to three cousins of his who all detest him for the most part; one was a little mixed on the legacy. But Anne Roiphe, the writer, who’s a cousin of Roy Cohn, says that her mother told her that Dora Cohn was the ugliest girl in the Bronx. And that kicks off an anecdote from Roiphe about how Dora couldn’t get married, so they had to arrange a marriage for her with a young lawyer named Al Cohn. And the theory in the family is that Roy was an evil seed of a loveless marriage, and this is what set him on the wrong course, which sounds a little too simplistic to me. But anyway, it comes from the family, and that’s why I thought it was fair to include it.

RS: Yeah, I should mention that we’re talking about a very, very interesting documentary, Where’s My Roy Cohn? Why don’t you explain the title for a minute, Matt Tyrnauer. And what I love about this movie is it’s, you know, a periscope into the last 50 years. So who are we, where did we come from, and WASPs, Jews, everyone. I mean, for instance, the Reagans; yes, the, you know, Roy Cohn was important to them. And they listened to him–well, I don’t like to put Nancy and Ronald Reagan in exactly the same bag. I think Nancy Reagan was, in some ways, much more interesting and complex. However–by the way, I think Gore Vidal felt the same way. He remained close to Nancy.

MT: No. Well, he skewered her in his greatest essay, “Ronnie and Nancy: A Life in Pictures,” but back here in cozy southern California in their dotage, they would have lunch at the Bel-Air Hotel. Which I could never quite reconcile, to be honest with you.

RS: Well, I talked to her about it, and she was quite–she liked him a lot, and thought he was–and she–she was not a dummy. She was a bright, a bright woman. But that’s not my point. The thing is, in the film–and that’s what I think is so valuable about this film, because people like–first of all, most people don’t care about history, as if none of this ever happened, or mattered or anything. And we’ve had evil before, we’ve done stupid things before, we’ve had reckless leaders before. I mean, so this era that we’re in is not so special, as some people–I don’t know, the conceit is somehow we’ve crossed over, I mean, and–

MT: You know, Woodrow Wilson did terrible things. A lot of presidents did terrible things. Andrew Johnson did terrible things. They didn’t have the nuclear arsenal. I think this is why we really [Laughs]–

RS: Well, one president who you mentioned, there’s now a kinder view of that president, Harry Truman did have a nuclear arsenal. He had two of them, anyway. And he didn’t drop it in the ocean, and he didn’t just say what we had. No, they committed, in my–let me put an editorial in here–the worst single two acts of terrorism, if by terrorism we mean using innocent civilians as collateral damage to make a political point. I mean, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are certainly that. But I’m getting to the larger point about your documentary. It’s a visit into American history to realize there’s always been a dark side, there’s always been cynicism, there’s always been demagogues. You know, I forget which building, what was it they were building and they used the concrete because the Mafia controlled–

MT: That would be Trump Tower.

RS: Trump Tower, OK. [Laughs] But he’s not alone in doing that. I mean, you know, you were doing business in New York. I got my job in the New York Post Office by going up to the Democratic Party headquarters in my neighborhood in the Bronx, and they looked up, my father had voted democratic–OK, kid, take this down there to Grand Central and show it to so-and-so, you know, and that was the norm.

MT: Well, the movie is really about all of that. It’s about this system that can become perverted. And certain elements of it aren’t inherently bad; sometimes they’re bad actors that exploit it, and Cohn, I would argue, is definitely one of them. He comes out of an era of the clubhouse politics, which was very much the favor bank. And he had his roots in that kind of demagogic behavior, and was very thuggish by instinct, and very brilliant.

RS: Did he ever punch anybody, or–? When you say “thuggish,” he was–

MT: I think he was a bully boy. So I think we’re resorting in his case to kind of like thirties movies, Scarface dialogue. And he was a lawyer; I think he had other people that he could maybe call on to throw you off the side of the boat, or to like put you in concrete shoes, which we found plenty of evidence that things like that were happening, by the way.

RS: And he did get people–well, in the case of the Rosenbergs, certainly killed, and was instrumental, and messed up a lot of lives, I’m not minimizing that here–

MT: Well, there’s a case–there’s a never-solved case of a scuttled boat in which a young man died. There were other allegations of murders that he was attached to that the film doesn’t go into, because it’s only a 90-minute movie. There’s a very dark legacy. He was the attorney for Mafia dons, which of course, Mafia dons in our system are entitled to attorneys, so that is a legitimate thing. But the network that he–over which he presided, which I would call the favor bank of that period, had a dark side to it that he really was the president of. And I think a good way of viewing his unique role that he created for himself in the middle of the last century was the person on the bridge between the illegitimate world and the legitimate world.

He had the relationships and he had the goods on the criminals, and also the legit politicians, because he trafficked in both those worlds. And you kind of had to go see him if you wanted to get stuff done frequently, and Trump used him to very beneficial effect. You alluded to Trump Tower, which was built with concrete; buildings in the seventies and eighties in New York were rarely built with concrete, because the mob controlled the concrete contract business, and you needed to really be in with them to make that work for you. And Cohn fixed it up for him, and he did it. So–

RS: Do you think Trump knew that the Mafia was weighing in?

MT: I believe he did. A lot of my reporting in this is based on the great reporting of David K. Johnston, who’s interviewed in the film.

RS: And who I’ve done a podcast with, and he’s written an incredible book.

MT: Superb, ahead of his time on Trump and Cohn.

RS: Yeah, certainly the best investigative journalist we have when it comes to anything to do with economics. Yeah.

MT: Taxes. But he was covering Trump in the eighties, early eighties. And he was the one who got on to the [contract] business in concrete for Trump Tower, and how Trump lied about his wealth and had the shell companies, and he’s a wonderful resource for all of that. So my hat is off to him. But what the movie also shows is how we got to now, because Trump learned his double-down, hit you back 100 times harder, lie, smear, prevaricate, accuse the person accusing you of something, of what you’re guilty of, diversionary tactics–all of that is the Cohn playbook. And Cohn was brilliant, and brilliant at deploying it; Trump, I think, does it in a more instinct way, in a kind of like, in a more lumpen way. I don’t think he’s intelligent like Cohn was, but he’s effective.

RS: Well, let me take this window on really America, of course, in general, but New York City specifically. And you have a whole list of people that are interviewed or given credit for at the end and so forth, who helped define an image of New York: [Jason Epstein], a number of these people. And there was–they romanticized this aspect of New York; they romanticized, actually, the corruption, the–you know, the toughness. In a way, certainly, Hollywood movies like The Godfather and everything do that, you know. And yet in your documentary, you see just how sordid it is. And again, getting to this basic question that I’m raising with you–is it an aberration or is it the norm? I think growing up in New York, I was there right through City College, and you know, lived with my mother in the Bronx, right through, then went off to graduate school in Berkeley, that’s why I’m here.

But I didn’t like it. I thought, you know, there was nothing fun and wonderful about it. You know, you went along with these people, or you got hurt, you know. And when you challenged them, they could get cops to beat you up because you challenged them politically, say in the Rosenberg case or something. It was pretty brutal. And your movie shows–I think the power of the movie, I don’t want to hurt it by grafting my own view. But when I came away from, yes, I wanted to take a shower after watching it; I felt, I have really been exposed to evil. However–however, it’s a strain that runs not just through our society, obviously. It’s what Christianity warns us about: there’s the devil in all of us. And it’s there. And people seem to enjoy it. They actually enjoyed this guy and his sense of power. That’s the surprising thing. Even the Liz Smiths and others who–Oh, yeah, Roy, and he gave me these items, and I didn’t use them. Well, she used a lot of other items.

MT: She used some of them, for sure.

RS: Yeah, yeah.

MT: Well, people characterized him as a lovable monster. Jason Epstein, who’s got great politics as far as I’m concerned, is a liberal lion, a great literary figure. Murray Kempton–

RS: Full disclosure, also my editor on a number of books, and I admire him.

MT: Murray Kempton apparently was fine with Roy Cohn. And then people on the more dark print side, like Bill Buckley and William Safire. Barbara Walters, who had a long-term family connection with him and functioned as his beard–

RS: Yeah, she had to actually publicly say, no, we’re not getting married.

MT: Yeah, a few times, I think. So it’s sort of used and being used. And I think the word that captures it is “transactional.” So New York’s a very transactional place, which is what I think you are reacting to when you say you never liked it, and you thought it was very ugly. And I felt the same way when I lived there. I, you know, I worked at Vanity Fair, so I had this like window on the Bonfire of the Vanities aspect of it. I never wanted to be of it. If you–you know what I mean–if you have to work hard to be welcome in those rooms and those inner sanctums, it’s–you feel like you do need a shower, frankly. And that is personified by Cindy Adams and all of these people that were the gossip columnists that made the world go round. They’re sort of the heirs of Walter Winchell, to be honest with you, who was a demagogic gossip, really like a one-man Fox News back in the day. The city has always functioned like that, and Cohn worked that system to perfection, which was part of his power base. And later on, Trump did as well. I mean, people thought Trump was a joke, but he still worked the system, and the system still accommodated him.

And you know, I think to your point, which has been the theme of this show, yes, it’s always there. Sometimes I think it flares up when you shine a light on it, and it’s like lifting up the rock and putting a flashlight onto a wormscape. [Laughs] It’s frightening. And I think we’re in a particular time now whereby a strange quirk in our Constitution, someone who shouldn’t be there has attained the presidency who happened to be the mentee of Roy Cohn, which is why we’re sitting here talking about this.

RS: Well, let’s not lose that thread right now. Because I sort of minimized it when we began. Because the movie doesn’t devote a whole lot of time to the relationship between Roy Cohn and Trump. But the more we’ve been talking and reflecting back on the movie, I think it provides a great insight into Trump, and–as a uniquely New York product, which I have really not thought about much until this moment, frankly. But now, when I put Trump back in the New York that I knew–and we both had German fathers. [Laughs] He didn’t have a Jewish mother. I had a German Protestant father. But I know that culture; I’m not putting down German Protestants, but I know that area, also, of New York. And yes, and particularly his was informed by wealth. The marks are all there, and it makes perfect sense that they would gravitate towards each other.

And so why don’t–we have just a few minutes, but why don’t you–what do you, what have you thought about your insights into Trump based on what you know about Roy Cohn? By the way, somebody–probably many people listening to this have never heard of Roy Cohn. I mean, it’s not as if this history is alive in our imagination. So just to remind people, we’re talking about a guy who could make or break generals, and even presidents. I mean, this guy could intimidate some of the most powerful people in the country. And even after he got called out in the Army-McCarthy hearings, and his sponsor collapsed, Joe McCarthy, he went on to a career of trafficking in power, with powerful people, and breaking the bones and causing the deaths of innocent people, right there in the capital of this–

MT: –and ruining their lives.

RS: Yeah. And so, but what is–what is really the connection with Trump? It’s not just a hook to get people to watch the movie.

MT: No, not at all.

RS: It’s a real connection.

MT: Not at all. I mean, our friend Vidal called this the United States of amnesia, so of course people don’t remember Cohn. People don’t remember McCarthy. You know, also because our education system is lacking, so these things aren’t taught. Cohn comes out of the McCarthy period; he’s literally the chief counsel to McCarthy. So the movie connects the dots. We’re in a demagogic moment in our country right now that is, I think, something of a surprise to a lot of people because it’s so acute. It happens that the person who created Trump, and taught him all he knows about how to manipulate the press and the body politic, is the same person who was at McCarthy’s side. So there is a relationship there. But in that moment in New York, in the mid-century, these two guys found each other. And Trump, who was a young, outer-borough rich kid on the make, ends up with Roy Cohn as his consiglieri, basically.

And Trump wasn’t anything at the time; he was like a kid on the make. Cohn was attracted to tall, blonde, WASPy-looking guys; I think there was a bit of a crush, one-way, Cohn on Trump. And he takes up Donald Trump as a protégé, and he gives him basically the nuclear codes to how to rule New York society. And Trump does with them what he did, which was squander them, really, for a long time. I mean, he was just doing this narcissistic me-me-me thing and losing all his father’s money for decades. Then through Roger Stone, who was also a protégé for Roy Cohn and is interviewed in the movie, so you can see all these things–

RS: Stretch that out a little bit, because I haven’t done the movie credit here that it deserves. This is not an add-on to get the movie into the current conversation. It makes a very critical point about the origins of corruption in America as evidenced by the Trump phenomenon. And it’s a phenomenon that involves manipulating media. By the way, we’re doing this from what used to, at USC here, what used to be called the Les Moonves studio; I guess he contributed to it. But CBS had a lot to do with Trump’s rise and so forth.

MT: NBC.

RS: And Les Moonves famously said when meeting with affiliates, Trump may not be good for the country, but he’s great for CBS, for the ratings.

MT: That statement encapsulates so much, really. You know, the cynicism of people whose politics might be otherwise. I don’t think that most media barons, except for Rupert Murdoch and his kin, are as extremely right-wing. But when they see the dollars rolling in–and Trump figured out how to become a moneymaker for all sorts of media platforms–they will perpetuate. And that is happening now. And I think, this is slightly off-topic, but I think that’s one thing that’s a little wild card in this election season, is that the media is so addicted to him, and so addicted to the money that he makes them tangentially, and the careers that he’s making. Journalists have never had it so good right now in terms of building careers.

RS: And they’re heroes.

MT: Yes, exactly.

RS: And the more–and actually, the more they betray–[it’s] hard to be objective. It’s hard to, you know, discipline yourself and, you know, even play devil’s advocate, OK. Which by the way you do in this movie; you are fair to Roy Cohn, I must say. I didn’t get the sense that this is, you know, put the hatchet in the guy. And you could have gone much further. And by fair, I don’t mean you’re easy on him. But you’re trying to really understand, where did this guy come from? Well, journalists don’t have to do that now. Now they ironically are making a living off this guy Trump, and yet savaging him–it’s like, we win both ways. You know, sound the alarm and our credibility increases, you know?

MT: Yeah, it’s disturbing. And I’ve been–going back to Roger Stone, which was the last thread we were on–Stone, like Cohn, like Trump, knows how to play the media. So you see him giving the Nixon, you know, double-peace salute and hamming it up. And they’re there, the cameras are there for them. And this is the trick. It was developed at the dawn of television in the fifties; Cohn was right there for it, he passes it on to Trump. And it’s a combination of self-interest, narcissism, and dirty tricksterism. And now it’s happening on a beyond-operatic scale because of the position of the presidency, the bully pulpit, and just the sheer awe of that, of presiding over this democratic republic, which is the most important thing in the world. He shouldn’t be there. I would maintain, which is the point of the film, that Roy Cohn created a president from beyond the grave. I don’t think it’s exaggeration to say that, and that’s why I made the film.

RS: That’s a good headline to put on this. How Roy Cohn–how did you just put it?

MT: How Roy Cohn created a president from beyond the grave.

RS: That’s it. That’s a good way to wrap this up. And I don’t think that’s reaching for something just to hype it. I do believe–I was impressed. You know, because you do these podcasts and, OK, I gotta watch this movie or watch that movie. And I thought I knew a lot about Roy Cohn and everything, and I really found it instructive; I just want to put that out there. I think it’s actually, in some ways, a brilliant–not just some ways, it’s a brilliant film. And because you, you’re not–you are fair to the guy. It’s very difficult to be fair to Roy Cohn, and yet one comes away, like–ugh, you know, how did I, why, you know. And then–but he’s not an aberration, which is I guess the point I’ve been trying to make. He’s playing, you know, on familiar themes; the same with Trump. I mean, yes, Trump is the pus that comes out of the wound, but he didn’t create the wound, right. The pus has an odor, it’s awful, it offends us.

But, yes–but how did the wound get there? And that’s what Roy Cohn did. He didn’t invent primitive anti-communism, he didn’t invent homophobia. That was the official legal line in our country. You were arrested for being gay, right? You know, this was the law, you know, and being a communist, you couldn’t teach, you couldn’t do this, you couldn’t do that. So Roy Cohn came and said, well, let’s just hang ‘em all, let’s just blast ‘em all, let’s destroy all their lives. And you know, that’s what Trump is doing–said well, wait a minute, you know, we’re going to make America great again. We’ll push around people all over the world, we’ll force trade deals, we’ll do this. It’ll be great. Because we’re God’s chosen people. And we were great, we’ll be great again, and there it is. And–well, the way you put it, the title, that’s the way we put it–from beyond the grave, Roy Cohn—

MT: Creates a president.

RS: Created Donald Trump’s presidency. Well, all right. That’s it for this edition of Scheer Intelligence here at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Victor Figueroa has been a terrific engineer. And once again, Josh Scheer is the producer of “Scheer Intelligence,” at KCRW it’s Christopher Ho, and we’ll be back next week with another edition of “Scheer Intelligence.”

Robert Scheer
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🌍 George Galloway vs The US Senate
« Reply #773 on: October 13, 2019, 04:29:33 PM »
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/TRbMQ4t2Nfo" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/TRbMQ4t2Nfo</a>
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🌍 Protests rage from Barcelona to Hong Kong
« Reply #774 on: October 16, 2019, 12:03:32 AM »
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/N5HAmWbjJKc" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/N5HAmWbjJKc</a>
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The US has a history of controlling the OPCW to promote regime change
« Reply #775 on: October 31, 2019, 01:13:44 PM »
Caitlin Johnstone
CaitlinJohnstone.com
Tue, 29 Oct 2019
You wouldn’t know it from today’s news headlines, but there’s a major scandal unfolding with potentially far-reaching consequences for the entire international community. The political/media class has been dead silent about the fact that there are now two whistleblowers whose revelations have cast serious doubts on a chemical weapons watchdog group that is widely regarded as authoritative, despite the fact that this same political/media class has been crowing all month about how important whistleblowers are and how they need to be protected ever since a CIA spook exposed some dirt on the Trump administration.

 Partners in Crime

When the Courage Foundation and WikiLeaks published the findings of an interdisciplinary panel which received an extensive presentation from a whistleblower from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigation of an alleged 2018 chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria, it was left unclear (perhaps intentionally) whether this was the same whistleblower who leaked a dissenting Engineering Assessmentto the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media this past May or a different one. Subsequent comments from British journalist Jonathan Steele assert that there are indeed two separate whistleblowers from within the OPCW’s Douma investigation, both of whom claim that their investigative findings differed widely from the final OPCW Douma report and were suppressed from the public by the organization.

The official final report aligned with the mainstream narrative promulgated by America’s political/media class that the Syrian government killed dozens of civilians in Douma using cylinders of chlorine gas dropped from the air, while the two whistleblowers found that this is unlikely to have been the case. The official report did not explicitly assign blame to Assad, but it said its findings were in alignment with a chlorine gas attack and included a ballistics report which strongly implied an air strike (opposition fighters in Syria have no air force). The whistleblowers dispute both of these conclusions.

Jonathan Cook@Jonathan_K_Cook

The drip-drip of revelations continues. Now a *second* whistleblower has come forward to say the OPCW concealed their findings clearing the Assad government of responsibility for an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma last year https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/opcw-losing-credibility-as-even-more-revelations-surface-on-douma-755a0621710b



https://www.sott.net/article/422903-The-US-has-a-history-of-controlling-the-OPCW-to-promote-regime-change
« Last Edit: October 31, 2019, 01:17:43 PM by azozeo »
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You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

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🌎 Ralph Nader: The World Is Waiting for America to Rise Up
« Reply #776 on: November 11, 2019, 02:34:30 AM »
They will need to wait until after the Superbowl.

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https://www.truthdig.com/articles/ralph-nader-the-world-is-waiting-for-america-to-rise-up/

Nov 08, 2019
Opinion
Ralph Nader: The World Is Waiting for America to Rise Up


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Around the world people are marching, rallying, and demonstrating in huge numbers. Some of these countries are ruled by dictators or plutocratic regimes, others are considered democracies. Despite the peril of protest, people are seeking justice, freedom, and decent livelihoods.

Many boast about the United States being the oldest democracy in the world. While there are some street protests in the US, they are sadly too few and far between. Rallies calling attention to climate disruption have received less public support and media attention than they deserve. Likewise, the Parkland rally in Washington, D.C., against gun violence could have received more follow up publicity. And we all remember the massive women’s march the day after Trump was inaugurated in Washington, D.C. The subsequent women’s marches have attracted smaller crowds and therefore less media coverage.

It is not as if our country doesn’t have a historic tradition of sustained demonstrations. Mass protests have carried the labor movement, the farmer movement, the civil rights movement, and the anti-war movement to breakthroughs. These mass protests alone were not the sole drivers of political action—books, articles, editorials, pamphlets, posters, and litigation were essential. But visible displays of aggregated people power had a profound effect on those politicians’ actions. When politicians put their fingers to the wind, the repeated rumble from the masses is what fills the sails of change.

It is not as if mass injustices are absent in the “land of the free, home of the brave.” Sadly, the informed populace is just not showing up in an organized, big crowd fashion—the way they did to challenge the nuclear arms race and nuclear power in the nineteen seventies and eighties. In the era of the iPhone and Internet, activists have greater access to organizing tools than ever—no postage stamps or costly long-distance telephone calls are needed.

Consider these candidates for mass demonstrations proximate to where the decision makers are located. Millions of young people are being gouged by student loan creditors and for-profit colleges. Whether it is the U.S. Department of Education’s high interest rates or the exploitation by for-profit universities, the abuses are outrageous, cruel, and in the latter case, often criminal.

Total outstanding student loans amount to over $1.5 trillion. These burdened young Americans know how to contact each other for free; they also can raise money instantly using new crowdfunding technology. They know how to use the visual arts and the verbal arts. Congress can reverse the predatory practices in higher education. Where is the advocacy from millions of student loan debtors? They could have a huge impact if they surrounded the Capitol or held smaller rallies around Congressional offices back home, especially in the coming election year.

Millions of workers are making, inflation adjusted, less than workers made in 1968. The federal minimum wage, frozen at $7.25, is the culprit. The House of Representatives finally bestirred itself to pass a $15 minimum wage stretched over a number of years. But when the Walmart-indentured members of the Senate look out their windows, it would be nice to see masses of workers surrounding their Senate offices, prior to some insistent personal lobbying?

There are no labor mass rallies in front of Trump’s anti-labor White House either, even though, the headquarters of the AFL-CIO are just yards away on 16th Street NW. The face-off of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka v. Donald Trump is overdue.

Millions of minorities are suffering voter suppression. Civil rights leaders are angry. They anticipate Republicans at the state and federal level to again erect all kinds of insidious roadblocks that disproportionately affect people of color the most. Abuses in the Florida and Georgia races were rampant in 2018. Presidential races in swing states are also plagued by voter suppression tactics. All signs point to a more intrusive stripping of eligible voters in the 2020 election.

Where are the marches before the offices of the state secretary of state and culpable legislators and Governors headquarters?

A quarter of our country’s families are poor. A Poor People’s Campaign, led by the Reverend William Barber and local pastors, has been protesting in the streets in North Carolina and other states. Their protests deserve far greater attendance. The media has given them too little coverage. But if there were massive demonstrations in major cities and before state legislatures and the Congress, with coordinated demands and large photographs of key politicians fronting for the rich and powerful, will get mass media coverage.

Tens of millions of Americans have no health insurance or are severely underinsured. Thousands of lives are lost annually as a result. This is a problem in America but not other developed nations that have systems in place that prioritize their citizens’ health. Getting sick or injured without medical care is far too frequent in the U.S. Those who suffer from this deprivation can be motivated to take to the streets. The health care industry’s soaring profits and their mega-rich bosses should move additional Americans to rally for Medicare-for-All!

These rallies can be led by physicians and nurses, tired of the paperwork, the bureaucracy, and the health insurance companies denying access to health care for their patients and arbitrarily rejecting doctor-recommended treatments.

In the nineteen forties, President Harry Truman proposed to Congress universal health insurance. Americans still do not have Medicare-for-All and are paying the highest prices, premiums, and out of pocket bills in the world—not to mention the human suffering caused by an inadequate healthcare system.

What a great street story for television, radio, and print newspapers! Think of the tragic human interest stories, straight from the heart by mothers and fathers with children having limited or no access to health care.

Other marches can come from the homeless and the desperate tenants spending over half their income on rent in the many communities where there is a shortage of affordable housing.

All these mass turnouts can pass contribution buckets or tout websites and raise money from the crowds for the next round of even larger protests. At each event, a list of demands can be presented to decision-makers. At each event, protestors can go to the offices where the decision-makers are or insist that these lawmakers speak to the assembled protestors.

There are many innovations to make these action rallies more impactful, more motivating, and more mass-media-centric. There also have to be some enlightened billionaires, worried about their country and their descendants, who want to provide the modest amount of money necessary for event organizers and focused political action. Show up America!
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