Michael Parenti – Lies, War, and Empire (2007)
The superb Michael Parenti at Antioch University in Seattle – as relevant in 2014 as in 2007.
Lecture 1 hour then Q&A.
August 6, 1945, the United States used a massive, atomic weapon against Hiroshima, Japan. This atomic bomb, the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT, flattened the city, killing tens of thousands of civilians. While Japan was still trying to comprehend this devastation three days later, the United States struck again, this time, on Nagasaki. ( 9th August 1945)
The 69th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, reminds me of Chomsky’s observation that the way to win a war is to attack the other side’s civilian population … it worked in Japan, and (particularly at the moment) it is obviously the strategy.
More than ever before, we are being brought face to face with the horrors of the bloodshed. The genocidal intent of the Israelis in Gaza, the barbarism of ISIS in Iraq, the murderous gas pipeline power struggle in Syria, the little reported ethnic and cultural ‘cleansing’ of the Donbass region of Ukraine and many unreported massacres in the Congo, Sudan and more.
Chomsky illustrates the effectiveness (and hypocrisy) of the strategy in recent piece about downing of the passenger plane in the Ukraine:
Every literate person, and certainly every editor and commentator instantly recalled another case when a plane was shot down with comparable loss of life: Iran Air 655 with 290 killed, including 66 children, shot down in Iranian airspace in a clearly identified commercial air route. The crime was not carried out “with U.S. support,” nor has its agent ever been uncertain. It was the guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes, operating in Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf….It was a major factor in Iran’s recognition that it could not fight on any longer, according to historian Dilip Hiro.
Naturally, if it is ‘their’ forces, it is described as a massacre and an outrage, but if the killing is from ‘our side’, it is simply collateral damage, unreported or reported as if legitimate.
This is not new, as Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed details in his lecture ‘The Hidden Holocaust’, reposted below. Historically, this was the pattern of colonisation. Millions of indigenous peoples were systematically exterminated and their cultures erased. The remaining population was cowed and of necessity compliant.
But the killing continues. It may be overt as in Gaza, Donetsk or Iraq… or it may be hidden in the statistics about ever increasing global poverty or the million children who die every year from Malaria or from the unrecorded effects of sanctions or from polluted environments or the people dispossessed of their land by corporations or poverty wages or by removing social security or from climate change. None of these need be happening.
Nowadays, colonisation is less about occupying a land mass and more about controlling the economy. For example, in order to eradicate the socialism of Allende and impose strict free market-oriented neoliberal economic reforms, the US-backed Pinochet’s armies killed or ‘disappeared’ at least 3,000. These were representatives from the cultural world, intellectuals, university staff and students, forcing 200,000 Chileans into exile – up to 80,000 people were interned and as many as 30,000 were tortured during the time Pinochet was in government. The proposed trade deals, TTIP, TPP and TISA are the latest way to achieve the same, by setting corporate rule above national governments, to the detriment of ordinary people and threat to the most vulnerable.
But in addition to all of this, the other side’s ‘massacres’ are exploited to persuade populations that their side are the ‘good guys’ and if required, they should go and fight… Pearl Harbour and 9/11 spring to mind. Jim Grundy writes of the start of WW1:
A hundred years ago today the most advanced military machine in the world, the Germany Army, invaded its neighbours. Within 48 hours, the first massacres of civilians took place, not by accident but as a matter of deliberate policy. Thousands were to be murdered in the coming weeks. British public opinion, that had not been sympathetic to Serbia after the Sarajevo assassinations, was appalled by the stories of mass murder committed against a defenceless population. The British State might have gone to war to protect the European balance of power, its own imperial interests but the reason for war was clear to most British people – the avoidance of the fate meted out by an aggressive military power to women and children here at home.
Massacres and atrocities are brilliant tools for galvanising ordinary people into the required behaviour… Capitulation to stop the killing, compliance on the part of the oppressed and public support for conscription, surveillance and draconian security clamp-downs. The global power elites need to convince us because they cannot further their own interests, without our being frightened or fooled into backing them. Don’t believe the hypocritical and sanctimonious talk about the outrage of killing civilians. It is palpably untrue.
As Chomsky says - Israel could “defend” itself by withdrawing from territories it illegally occupies.
When the powers-that-be talk about security, it is not for you and me .. the security they mean is security for the rich and powerful to stay rich and powerful.
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed : The_Hidden_Holocaust
Political analyst on security, conflict and global crisis. Director of Institute for Policy Research & Development, London. Author of “The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry” (Duckworth, 2006) and “The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism” (Arris, Olive Branch, 2005).
On TTIP and the NHS, they are trying to bamboozle us by John Hilary (Executive Director of War on Want and author of The Poverty of Capitalism: Economic Meltdown and the Struggle for What Comes Next (2013).) Reposted from openDemocracy 14.07.2014
The TTIP trade treaty talks re-open in Brussels this week. We should not be reassured by the convenient ‘leak’ of a private letter between key TTIP advocates claiming the treaty poses no threat to the NHS.
The NHS has become a key battleground for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the controversial treaty currently being negotiated in secret between the European Commission and the US government.
Now that more and more people are becoming aware of the threat that TTIP poses to public services, the European Commission and its friends have found a new and inventive way of trying to bamboozle people into accepting it.
On the eve of the sixth round of talks, which begin in Brussels this week, a ‘private’ letter from the EU’s chief negotiator, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, to John Healey MP was conveniently leaked to the Guardian and Financial Times. The letter attempts to downplay the fact that public health services are included in TTIP, suggesting that there is no need to fear for the NHS as a result.
The media went further, suggesting that there was to be a ‘carve out’ for the NHS, or that US companies would not be allowed to run public health services in the future. Both claims are entirely false.
The first thing to note is that there is nothing new in the letter, nor any change in the EU’s position. The European Commission has used exactly the same arguments to defend the inclusion of health, education and other public services in all previous trade agreements, as those of us who have been engaged in these debates for the past 20 years know all too well. Yet trade experts point out that public services are still highly vulnerable when they are included in negotiations, particularly when private operators have been granted access to public sector contracts, as is the case with the NHS.
The second thing to note is that the letter came from the chief EU negotiator to one of the principal cheerleaders for TTIP in Britain. John Healey chairs the all-party parliamentary group on EU-US investment, and has been doing his best to prevent trade unions and campaign groups from joining opposition to TTIP over the past few months. Happily, all major trade unions in Britain are now part of the campaign to stop TTIP. So here are some basic truths on the NHS and TTIP, starting with the most important and getting more technical as they go on:
1. Health services, medical services (including midwifery and physiotherapy) and dental services are all included in the TTIP negotiations. We already knew this because we saw it with our own eyes in the EU’s draft offer to the USA that was uncovered last month. Indeed, Garcia Bercero’s letter acknowledges that health services are on the table. The only sector that has been excluded from the TTIP talks is audio-visual services, as a result of dogged insistence by the French. All other public services are in, and can be traded away for further liberalisation if the US negotiators so demand.
If David Cameron wished to exclude the NHS or any other public service from the negotiations, he could do as the French government has done. All that is needed for this to happen, as the British Medical Association (BMA) has demanded, is for no mention of health services to appear in TTIP at all. In reality, of course, it is Cameron’s government that has already opened up the NHS to private providers by means of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act. Why would he raise a finger to get it excluded from TTIP?
2. Garcia Bercero’s letter also confirms another key charge from opponents of TTIP: that the NHS is open to attack under the new investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) rules that TTIP would introduce between the EU and USA. For the first time, US corporations would be able to bypass our domestic courts and challenge our national health policy decisions before ad hoc arbitration tribunals, and to sue us for hundreds of millions of dollars in ‘damages’ as a result of future policy changes that might affect their bottom line. This is one clear mechanism that would prevent any future government from bringing the NHS back into public sector hands, as the cost of compensating private providers would render such a move instantly unattractive.
Garcia Bercero would like us to believe that future challenges to the NHS would be ‘unlikely’. Yet the Slovak Republic has already lost a multi-million dollar case under similar rules to Dutch insurance company Achmea for reversing the country’s earlier (and deeply unpopular) privatisation of health insurance. Tobacco giant Philip Morris is currently using ISDS provisions to sue the Australian government for billions of dollars over its new public health law that all cigarettes must be sold in plain paper packaging. Ken Clarke MP, the minister with responsibility for TTIP, has admitted that the UK could face exactly such challenges from US health corporations if the treaty goes through.
3. Garcia Bercero’s next argument invokes the safeguard on services supplied ‘in the exercise of governmental authority’ that was first introduced in the 1994 General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and has become standard in other trade agreements since. Yet this safeguard is worthless in protecting public services in the modern era, as the definition of services supplied ‘in the exercise of governmental authority’ requires them to be supplied (a) not on a commercial basis, and (b) not in competition with any other service supplier. As trade experts have confirmed over many years now, the NHS does not qualify for this protection on either of the two counts.
4. This brings us to the final reason given by Garcia Bercero as to why we should not worry about the inclusion of public services in TTIP. Individual EU member states are still allowed to register their own special reservations for particular services in the liberalisation tables drawn up by the negotiators and submitted to the other side in the talks. Yet the UK government has entered such a reservation in TTIP for ambulance services only. Under TTIP, US health care companies would have the right to supply hospital services or social services.
International trade negotiations are deliberately complex, and this has long allowed officials to bamboozle the general public with impunity. Releasing Garcia Bercero’s letter into the public domain (it is available here) has allowed TTIP’s supporters to claim that the treaty poses no threat to the NHS. The opposite is true, and our struggle against TTIP continues as before.
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