Monday, December 17, 2007

Reconciling Fascism with Reality

Fascist! A word that is thrown around all too commonly in today’s political debates and partisan quibbling that is common among the cable “news networks.” A flip of the channel on any night to CNN, FOX, Headline News or other similar programs reveals time slots devoted to the latest celebrity scandal or any other unimportant story. When not emphatically debating the latest celebrity DUI or child-custody battle, you will frequently see a story or hear a media talking head propagate the fear-mongering about hoards of radical Muslims swimming across both oceans to destroy the very fabric of the North American homeland. Wouldn’t that be an impressive feat of stamina? But these individuals will not be referred to as just fanatics, terrorists or Islamists, but instead the newest trend “Islamofascists.”

Huh, did I miss something? Do these people who spew out rhetoric with that term even consider what fascism stands for or actually means. After all, would you not think that “esteemed” members of the media and their “expert” guests would actually understand what they are saying? Is that too much to ask? Unfortunately, yes. Not only do these individuals not use the term in a proper manner, they purposely distort the term in order to evoke thoughts of fear and insecurity.

Fascism?

So what defines a fascist society? Often times, fascism is subconsciously linked to the grainy black and white pictures of marauding Wermacht and SS troops from the 1940s. However, this shows a mental normalness which is incorrect. While Nazism did have fascist overtones, Nazism is not a form of government. Nazism is political ideology implemented through the use of a fascist government system. It is this system that needs to be understood and not the policy employed through it. This is vital since any form of government – yes, including a democracy – can be operated through a fascist structure. It is not exclusive to a dictatorship. As this article will show, you may be surprised by the results of the analysis.

Now, you reader, may argue that “who cares what the actual meaning of the word is, because it has taken on further societal overtones and inferences which society and it’s people now attribute to the word.” However, this does not do justice to the reality of the word or the reality of the world we live in today. You see, if we were to associate the word Fascist with Nazi, then we consciously set ourselves up to be oblivious to actual fascist tendencies which do not exhibit the racial or genocidal image that one has of Hitler’s master race. In order to analyze the events of the world today, we need a clear understanding of the true nature of Fascism, separate from its societal inferences. When this is done we see surprising results.

So what is fascism ? Lawrence Britt, writing in Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2, summarizes fourteen common traits of a fascist society.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

4. Supremacy of the Military

5. Rampant Sexism

6. Controlled Mass Media

7. Obsession with National Security

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined

9. Corporate Power is Protected

10. Labor Power is Suppressed

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

14. Fraudulent Elections

I recommend a read of his article to gain a deeper understanding of each point. While I wholeheartedly agree with the above delineation of a society crippled by the thrones of fascist power, I differ in the analysis as to how a government becomes fascist. I would to key in on Britt’s point number “9. Corporate Power is Protected.”

Corpofascism?

My argument comes at the issue from a different point of view. Instead of considering the above as traits of fascism, I believe that in fact, the fascist structure of government is what enables these attributes to manifest themselves. That fascist structure of government begins with the co-option of corporate and government interests becoming one in the same. This is the primary transition in the nature and operation of the government apparatus. Corporate power is not so much as protected; it is one in the same as government power. Hence the government is an extension of the corporate powerbrokers in society. Let me elaborate.

It begins with the unfettered control of government by corporate and business interests which leads to the detriment of the well-being of the many for the benefit of the few. Once the corporate and money powers have co-opted government, they are then able to work with government officials – who may have their own self-interested motives and ideologies – to instill policy that meets Britt’s thirteen other points.

So, fascism begins to manifest itself at the point when corporate interests highjack the operations of the government. Yes, business and government have and always been intertwined, it would be naïve not to think so. Yet, while intertwined in history there was a degree of separation and distinction between the functioning of each body. Each worked separately but in mutual respect of the other and would lend a helping hand to the other party. They mutually serve to promote each other. When working within the appropriate checks and balances, this enables a capitalist society to prosper and grow. After all, this is not fascism but capitalism at its very definition. In order for a society and its people to continue to be free and prosper the government must let economies thrive. However, in order for a society and its people to be treated equally and with justice, the government is needed to legislate and regulate the capitalist system so that it does not ultimately devour itself through its own desire for continual wealth. This is the act of mutual balance that is needed in a strong and healthy capitalist system.

A fascist government is one which is terminally ill with an incurable cancer. In a fascist society this system of mutual balance has completely and utterly collapsed to the point where government is not functioning as the representative of the people, but the security guard for the corporate interests. So if “experts” can throw around the word “Islamofacism”, let me make up a term “Corpofascism.”

So what happens when corporate interests rein supreme? We get a government system that exhibits the following:

1. It is a system where business interests and motives are held supreme over the interests of the public – usually leading to detrimental impacts on the public good.

2. It is a system where government has compromised every ounce of its duty, in order to serve the interests of the power brokers and money men through the legislation of laws and policies which benefit the rich and the corporations over those of the society.

3. It is a system where members of the government and the business community are indistinguishable from each other. Thus leading to patronage and cronyism beyond the normal expectations of a government official.

4. It is a system dominated by think-tanks and lobbying groups that influence politicians to act in the benefit of the industries and businesses they represent.

5. It is a system where politicians are corrupted and compromised through significant political contributions by big business (both under and over the table).

6. It is a system where the military, government and business are indistinguishable from each other. Succinctly described by Eisenhower as the “military industrial complex”.

7. It is a system where no distinction can be made between the overall policies and stances taken by opposing political parties within the Corpofascist system. The approach may differ, but the end result is the same.

8. It is a system with a domineering drive to reduce the scope of public services and the continued drive to privatize essential societal needs – health, education, welfare, etc.

9. It is a system where the public is inundated with propagandized rhetoric in order to distract them from the important issues. This maintains resistance to a minimum and enables the corporate interests to be served unabated.

Once a government structure begins to exhibit the above characteristics, it is safe to say that the government is now simply a tool – a very powerful tool at that – to serve the interest of the corporate masters. The checks and balances that once existed to keep government from falling into such a state have effectively been overwhelmed and defeated. The system is effectively broken and replaced with a Corpofascist operating racket.

Once this has occurred the government is used by the business and corporate interests not to further the advancement or well-being of the people, but instead to further the profit making abilities of the corporation. Laws and regulations are passed which benefit business by the same people that only months or a few years ago were commanding figures in industry and business. These “public citizens” now passing legislation were once minions serving as officers or directors for large multinational corporations. Their allegiance does not lie with the commoner, but with the industrial elites to whom they once belonged or to whom they owe their election financing. These same individuals maintain close business relationships and once their terms in office are complete frequently return to serve with the same corporations that they did before office or that they generously assisted while in office. The entire system is structured as a self-perpetuating revolving door that continues to perpetuate the corporate benefactor.

Maintaining the System

But certainly you say that such a corrupt system would be noticeable to the good citizenry of any nation and that they would rise up and demand more of their political masters. They would protest, use the power of their vote and demand a change to the way things are. Oh really? Well, a cursory application of the traits of a Corpofascist society reveals that this isn’t the case. And the reason is because the public is effectively disengaged and distracted from the truth through an ingenious use of a variety of means. This is where I will bring into my analysis Britt’s remaining points.

The Corpofascist government and its handlers know all too well that their power is only derived by the ability to distract the citizenry from the true nature of the racket they are operating. Therefore they employ a number of tools that do just this. These aren’t haphazardly applied, but instead carefully crafted to achieve the results of the corporate state.

It begins with the creation of an enemy upon which to blame all of the country’s problems and to distract the unknowing public from the actual events that are occurring in the echelons of power. These are the scapegoats to blame for all the state’s problems. This enemy is all powerful, all evil and just about ready to strike at the innocent children of the citizenry.

This enemy must be confronted. Alas, a call to arms is made using nationalistic and patriotic overtones that would make even a Nazi giddy with joy. The call to defend the homeland, to snoop on your neighbours and to serve your country becomes the heralded and virtuous duty of the citizen. Such indoctrination can only be completed by the complicit corporately controlled mass media which spews half-truths and utter lies on the television in order to whip the masses into fervor. Those who say that the media is separate and free from the government, forget that the government is not free and separate from the same corporations that control and own the media outlets.

To confront the enemy usually includes two further traits of a fascist society:

1. the use of military power to attack, invade and “liberate” the threat.
2. a curb on the domestic freedoms and civil liberties of the governments domestic citizenry in order to contain and monitor dissent.

In its thirst for power and growth the Corpofascist state indulges in the patriotic use of the nations military to secure access to regions, resources and access points that are critical to the profiteering of the business. Innocents on both sides of the military adventure endure the wrath of war while the corporate masters sit back in their air-conditioned offices. Countries are invaded, innocent women and children of brown skin (usually – let’s be honest) are considered “collateral damage” while their husbands, fathers, brothers and uncles are labeled as “terrorists.” Soldiers of the invading force, believing in the nobility of their mission – as a result of the lies they have been fed by their military and corporate masters, are brought home in body bags or on stretchers with arms and legs missing. They and their families suffer the continued mental and physical scars of a war to which they see no purpose.

Human rights, foreign and domestic, are flaunted by the Corpofascist state. In order to denigrate the worth of the people they are bombing wild stories of incomprehensible evil are spun and attributed to the enemy. Extraordinary measures, renditions and torture are employed to fight the enemy all in the name of preserving security. The Corpofascist state citizen is confronted with a perception of a government that is there to protect and genuinely take care of its citizens. Nothing could be further from the truth, but the veil of benevolence must be cast to get the citizen to capitulate their moral and intellectual fiber to the Corpofascist state.

When the veneer of goodwill is removed and dissent within the society begins to stir, the domestic populace is subject to strategies of harm reduction. Dissenters are characterized as unpatriotic, terrorist sympathizers and the all too common anti-semitic. Domestic criticism is quelled and laws are passed by the society to clamp down on citizen protests. The domestic police force is increasingly militarized in order to scare and confront the citizenry. Instead of serving and protecting the people they serve and protect the interests of the elite and the business powers.

While overt action against dissenters is taken the mass populace is kept in a state of ignorance. The corporate media feed them dribble about insignificant events which would be better served to be written on toilet paper. Stories of non-events are pumped, exaggerated and continually reported on by “experts” and “respected” members of the media. Celebrity gossip dominates the airwaves as a way to distract the individual from their own lives and important events. This is just fine for the Corpofascists.

Political discourse and debate is drawn down to severe partisan lines, whereby perceived differences are introduced within the political parties, despite the fact that the overall goal – the advancement of the corporate interest – is still paramount. Issues of debate between the political parties in the respective house of government focus on “distracting issues.” While important issues in their own rights – abortion, gay-rights, women’s rights, minority rights, etc. – these bear no relation to the prevailing problem with the sick society. No mention is made or attention paid to the domineering influence of the corporation within all aspects of the society. Corporate interests at all levels are hidden, minimized or protected by the Corpofascists even though vital areas of the citizenry are impacted – food, water, health, education, civil rights, human rights, domestic policy, foreign policy, energy security, and on and on.

The facade of fair and free elections is propagandized to the public. The citizen is made to feel like their vote counts. Little do the people realize that the “nominees” and “contenders” within the electoral process have already been pre-selected by the Corpofascist masters – the business elite. Despite theres being nominal differences between political parties, the interests of the Corpofascist elite will continued to be served. Nevertheless, elections are still tampered with. Fraud, corruption, intimidation and other immoral methods are used move the elections in the way the masters want them to go.

And thus, the cycle maintains its continuance. More and further enemies – real and imagined, mainly imagined - are constructed, and the entire cycle perpetuates itself. This is the essence of living in a Corpofascist state. The perpetuation is not infinite as the weight of the corruption and demagoguery will eventually erode the system from within. It will be a classic case of the cancer killing the host and itself in the process. How long and how terrible the suffering of the people under the system is a matter of how much of a fight the beast puts as it is being destroyed.

So What?

Given the above analysis, one has to ask, does the term “Islamofascist” even make any sense. The simple answer is no.

The main reason is that by nature fascism is a form of government, not an incurrence of political ideology like Nazism, Stalinism, Maoism, Arabism or Islamism. Therefore, a non-stateless entity is incapable of being fascist by the very nature that a system of government is lacking.

So are there governments in the world today which meet the criteria for a Corpofascist state? Yes, of course. To varying degrees there are numerous nations across the globe that meet the criteria. Is it unexpected? Not at all. Is it worrying? Yes. However, I propose an increasingly worrisome proposal. A certain nation, the richest and most powerful in the world, founded on the principles of freedom, liberty and justice has succumbed to the sweet nectar of Corpofascism.

A cursory look at the operations and characteristics of the United States Government reveals that the good ole US of A meets each and every one of the criteria mentioned above. The United States is a great nation in theory and on paper; the great experiment in liberty, freedom and democracy. And it still can be. However, in actuality the once proud banner of freedom and justice has been hijacked. The USA is a thriving example of a Corpofascist state. I will not go into presenting detailed facts in this narrative. That is not my objective. My objective was to highlight the traits of a Corpofascist state in order to engage the reader to follow up and apply the criteria for themselves.

Nonetheless, a look at the application of the Corpofascist criteria against readily available information – out there in the public domain - would lead even a fleeting reader in agreement. The only problem is that majority of the American people are not aware of this.

The solution is not too late. There is still time to change, but time is running out and a shift in the public consciousness and awareness is imperative. The first step is becoming aware of the issues and realizing the problem. It is important to realize that the problem is deeper and is more than solely the cause of one administration over another. It is a pervasive problem that has clung itself at the roots of government. Informed citizenry must come together to make people aware about the depths of corporate influence and corruption within the American government. Focus must be paid to the root case (corporate influence) and this issue must be confronted head-on through activism, information programs, and ‘spreading the gospel.’ Only then can real change be brought into the system.

The ultimate goal is not to reach a state of utopia. No government system is perfect, to believe so would be irrationally naïve. However, there is a point in time where the threshold between the checks and balances of a society can only be stretched so far. The line has been crossed, and now it is time for individuals to exercise their social conscious and fulfill their obligation as a citizen. And this matters not only for the American people. Being the only superpower and current imperialistic nation in the world, the functioning of the American government apparatus has far-reaching consequences on the livelihood and lives of all individuals that inhabit the planet. Most will say that the fate of the world depends on it.

As President Eisenhower stated in his farewell address, Jan. 17, 1961:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex.

May I add guard against the unwarranted influence of any industrial or corporate complex. Only then can the American dream of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” be achieved.

By Pervez Dastoor

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Senate Bill 1959

The end of Free Speech in America has arrived at our doorstep. It's a new law called the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, and it is worded in a clever way that could allow the U.S. government to arrest and incarcerate any individual who speaks out against the Bush Administration, the war on Iraq, the Department of Homeland Security or any government agency (including the FDA). The law has already passed the House on a traitorous vote of 405 to 6, and it is now being considered in the Senate where a vote is imminent. All over the internet, intelligent people who care about freedom are speaking out against this extremely dangerous law: Philip Giraldi at the Huffington Post, Declan McCullagh at CNET's News.com, Kathryn Smith at OpEdNews.com, and of course Alex Jones at PrisonPlanet.com

This bill is the beginning of the end of Free Speech in America. If it passes, all the information sources you know and trust could be shut down and their authors imprisoned. NewsTarget could be taken offline and I could be arrested as a "terrorist." Jeff Rense at www.Rense.com could be labeled a "terrorist" and arrested. Byron Richards, Len Horowitz, Paul Craig Roberts, Greg Palast, Ron Paul and even Al Gore could all be arrested, silenced and incarcerated. This is not an exaggeration. It is a literal reading of the law, which you can check yourself here: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc110/h1955_rfs.xml

The bill states:

‘...ideologically based violence’ means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual’s political, religious, or social beliefs...

Note that this means the "planned use of force to promote a political or social belief" would be considered an act of terrorism. This all hinges on the definition of "force," of course. Based on the loose use of logic in Washington these days, and the slippery interpretation of the meaning of words, "force" could mean:

• A grassroots campaign to barrage Congress with faxes
• A non-violent street protest
• A letter-writing campaign that deluges the Senate with too much mail
• A sit-in protest that blocks access to a business or organization
• A grassroots e-mail campaign that overloads the e-mail servers of any government department or agency

You get the idea. "Force" could be defined as practically anything. And since the "planned use of force" would be considered a criminal act of terrorism, anyone who simply thinks about a grassroots action campaign would be engaged in terrorist acts.

If you stopped someone on the street and handed them a Bible, for example, this could be considered an act of terrorism ("...use of force to promote the individual's religious beliefs...")

If you sent a barrage of angry letters to Washington about global warming and the destruction of the environment by the U.S. military, this could also be considered an act of terrorism ("...to promote the individual's political beliefs...")

If you believe in same-sex marriage and you wrote a letter threatning a sit-in protest in front of your state's capitol building, this could also be considered an act of terrorism, even if you never carried it out! ("...planned use of force to promote a social belief...")

The United States is on the fast track to fascism, and the Congress is working right alongside this nation's traitorous leaders to criminalize any thoughts, words or speeches that disagree with current government policies regarding war, terrorism, domestic surveillance and civil liberties. Simply speaking out against the war on Iraq could soon be labeled a crime. Merely thinking thoughts against the war on Iraq could be considered a criminal act.

Must-see video: Naomi Wolf's lecture on 10 steps to fascism
There's a video lecture you simply MUST watch. It's by Naomi Wolf, author of The End of America. She covers this topic with great elegance and a deep understanding of history. See her video on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjALf12PAWc

In her lecture and book, Naomi reveals the ten steps to fascist, then reveals how the United States of America is pursuing all ten! This S.1959 legislation, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, represents one of the ten steps to achieve a fascist state!

It is designed to squash all opposition to the State's ongoing march towards blatant fascism, where secret police and secret prisons dominate the law enforcement landscape, stripping U.S. citizens of all civil liberties and Constitutional protections.

Thoughtcrimes are about to become a reality in the United States of America, and Congress is pushing this through as quickly as possible so that each individual member of Congress can claim that he or she is "against terrorism." But this bill doesn't merely target terrorism: It targets anyone who speaks or even thinks thoughts against the U.S. federal government.

With this bill, the U.S. government is officially labeling the People of the United States as criminals. It is drawing a line in the sand and stating that from now on, it's the Government vs. the People.

There is no turning back from tyranny once the government turns its own citizens into criminals, enforcing only the thoughts, ideas, words and speeches that it approves or tolerates. Everything is at stake here!

If this becomes law, all free speech about health freedom, the crimes of the FDA, the crimes of the Bush Administration, America's role in global warming and any other topics could all be criminalized. YOU could be labeled a terrorist, kidnapped by government thugs, taken from your home, thrown in a secret prison, denied access to legal representation, denied due process and essentially "disappeared" into a system of such corruption and evil that it now begins to blatantly mirror Nazi Germany.

Think it couldn't happen here? It's happening right now! This is exactly how it happened in Nazi Germany. First, burn the Reichstag and blame it on the "enemy." Pass new police state laws. Disarm the people. Spread fear. Erect secret prisons and secret police. Call anyone who disagrees with you a "traitor." Control the mainstream media. Sound familiar? This is all happening right now in the United States of Amerika, and if we don't work to stop it, this nation will rapidly devolve into a fascist police state where no one is truly free.

We are but a few small steps away from it right now. All it would take is one dirty bomb in a major U.S. city. Bush would declare Martial Law and take over the National Guard. Troops on the streets. Anyone who writes a blog against the government would be arrested. Authors of "alternative" books would be kidnapped and have their books burned on the street. It could all happen at the stroke of a pen. The infrastructure for tyranny is in place right now, just waiting to be invoked.

Our best weapons: Non-violent protest and speaking the truth
How can we fight back against this onslaught of tyranny? We must use what remaining free speech freedoms we have right now to alert our fellow citizens to what's happening. We must rise up and tell the truth while urging our representatives in Washington to resist the temptation to vote for more "anti-terrorism" legislation that only works to enslave the American people.

That's why it's never good enough to say, "Well, we intend to only apply these laws to terrorists and not to U.S. citizens at home." That may be the intention right NOW, but virtually all such laws creep into areas of enforcement for which they were never intended. Just look at the application of RICO laws which were originally designed to fight organized crime operations but are now applied to virtually anyone (and yet they are never applied to Big Pharma, which operates almost exactly like organized crime!). All these anti-terrorism laws run the danger of expanding in enforcement to the point where they are applied against the People of this country. At first, it's only illegal for "terrorists" to think thought crimes, but before long, it's illegal for anyone to think those same thoughts. That when the domestic arrests of authors, journalists, bloggers and thought leaders will kick off, and the country will plunge itself into outright tyrannical fascism.

Again, we're on the track right now. This is happening, folks. You're LIVING through an amazing chapter of history right now. You're actually witnessing the downfall of a free nation and the rise of a superpower fascist state. You're actually part of it.

When it's all over, will you look back and realize you did nothing? Or will you now take a stand against tyranny and oppose these dangerous laws and lawmakers who threaten the Constitutional freedoms of you and your children?

By Mike Adams

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About the author: Mike Adams is a holistic nutritionist with a strong interest in personal health, the environment and the power of nature to help us all heal He has authored and published thousands of articles, interviews, consumers guides, and books on topics like health and the environment, reaching millions of readers with information that is saving lives and improving personal health around the world. Adams is an independent journalist with strong ethics who does not get paid to write articles about any product or company. In 2007, Adams launched EcoLEDs, a manufacturer of mercury-free, energy-efficient LED lighting products that save electricity and help prevent global warming. He's also the founder of a well known HTML email software company whose 'Email Marketing Director' software currently runs the NewsTarget subscription database. Adams volunteers his time to serve as the executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and regularly pursues cycling, nature photography, Capoeira and Pilates. Known by his callsign, the 'Health Ranger,' Adams posts his missions statements, health statistics and health photos at www.HealthRanger.org

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What the hell is wrong with Chavez?

What’s wrong with Hugo Chavez and Venezuela? Every time I turn on the news, I see another negative report! Why do the Venezuelan people keep electing him?

Maybe it’s time we stop believing the accusations of corporate media. Was corporate media telling the truth when it repeated every lie that took us into war in Iraq?

Did it give us the whole story on the events of 9/11?

When was the last time corporate media took political corruption and scandal seriously? Watergate?

The fact is the Venezuelan people DO keep electing Chavez and other Bolivarians to power. That’s called democracy, and whether the US government likes it or not, the US has no right to interfere in Venezuela’s electoral choices.

Is it true that democracy is being threatened in Venezuela?

Before Hugo Chavez was elected President, politics was dominated by two official parties (sound familiar?) that represented the interests of the wealthiest Venezuelans, but ignored the needs of the 80% who were living in poverty. When Hugo Chavez was elected, it was due to a coalition of popular forces that were rejecting “business as usual." Corporate officers and corrupt union leaders tried to overthrow Venezuela’s elected government in 2002, but masses of people took to the streets to defend their democracy. In the last election, President Chavez won with nearly 70% of the vote. It is obvious that the Bolivarian process has the support of the majority.

Meanwhile, communities are being given direct power to implement and administer many government programs and the government is supporting an explosion of cooperative enterprises, from worker run factories to fishing and agricultural coops. No wonder, in a recent poll of South American countries, Venezuelans had the highest percentage of those who said that their country is “totally democratic."

Why is President Chavez trying to eliminate political parties, remove term limits, and ensure that he will be elected President for life?

President Chavez is seeking to have the 24 parties that have supported the Bolivarian process unified into one party. This has no effect whatsoever on opposition parties, who are still free to organize and to run for office.

One of the reforms would remove presidential term limits. If anything, this is moving in the opposite direction of restricting democracy. If a country wants to keep reelecting someone for president, why shouldn’t they have that choice? Most countries do not have term limits for their heads of state, and in the case of countries like Israel, Spain, and Britain, the general public doesn’t even get to vote for their top leader!

What about the proposed constitutional reforms -- wouldn’t they limit the Venezuelan people’s power and pave the way to dictatorship?

If anything, the constitutional reforms would broaden democracy by giving more power to community and worker councils, including power to administer many government projects. This is one of the core differences between neoliberal, representative democracy (like we have in the United States), versus participatory democracy (which is what Venezuela is developing). In participatory democracy ... and under the constitutional reforms ... the direct involvement of communities is maximized, rather than minimized in favor of bureaucracies and government officials.

The constitutional reforms include a provision for emergency measures in the event of a crisis. These are not significantly different than what other countries have and are not as restrictive as similar plans in the United States. These measures, for instance, include the guarantee of a fair trial. There would be no Guantanamo, and neither would there be warrant-less surveillance of millions of citizens such as is already happening without an impending crisis, in the United States.

The constitutional reforms also would require a much needed overhaul of Venezuelan jails, make National Bank management answerable to elected officials, recognize the historic and cultural importance of Afro-Venezuelans, and outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. These reforms will be subject to a popular vote, just like the constitution was. This is unusual for US citizens, whose constitution was voted on only by a handful of land-owning White men, many of who were enslaving African heritage persons, and for whom constitutional amendments are never subjected to a popular vote.

How can we talk about democracy in Venezuela when there is so much repression of the media?

Just go to Venezuela and you’ll never ask that question again. You cannot walk around Caracas or any other Venezuelan city without hearing political discussion and debate. Kiosks sell copies of the constitution, newspapers, magazines … and most the newspapers and magazines are corporate-owned, opposition media. Turn on the TV and start channel surfing, and what you’ll find is more of the same: political discussion and debate, from broad points of view, with most of the stations, again, being opposition and corporate owned. Furthermore, the government is providing millions of dollars in funding for community-owned and operated media.

There was a lot of noise made about the closing of RCTV, an opposition station ... but the fact is, it was never closed, and is still available on cable and satellite. However, when RCTV’s license to use the public airwaves, free of charge, came up for renewal, it was denied. Considering that RCTV helped carry out the coup attempt against Venezuelan democracy in 2002, one can only be amazed that this is the ONLY restriction they have received.

Why doesn’t Hugo Chavez learn some manners and basic respect? Why is he always shooting off at the mouth, calling president Bush “the devil” and former president Aznar, of Spain, “a fascist? No wonder House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called him a thug and the King of Spain told him to shut up!

President Chavez does shoot off at the mouth some of the time, doesn’t he? In fact, it may well be this willingness to speak up and go head-to-head in struggle that has helped him survive. Remember that the Bush administration, with the support of Congress, funded, advised, and otherwise supported various efforts to bring down Venezuela’s elected government. This same Bush administration also engineered the overthrow of Haitian democracy and took the US to war in Iraq, against the people’s wishes.

What credentials did Bush have to go around attempting overthrows and invasions of other countries? He didn’t even win the popular vote in 2000, and there is evidence of widespread tampering with the electoral system in both 2000 and 2002. In fact, the Bush administration hired Choice Point (the same company that was paid to purge Florida voter roles before the 2000 election) to provide it with personal information on every voter in five Latin American nations, including Venezuela. Perhaps, instead of accusing Chavez of “shooting off at the mouth," we should commend him for his forthrightness and honesty about Bush. It is the leaders who refuse to speak out, who treat this warmonger with respect that is not due him, that we should be criticizing for their silence. Silence, after all, is complicity. As for President Aznar of Spain, he and Tony Blair acted as faithful followers to their ringleader, Bush. The two of them stood side by side with him to announce the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, even though the US, British, and Spanish people were overwhelmingly opposed to this war.

And what of the King of Spain? Since when does he have the right to tell any elected head of state to shut up. No one elected him. For an unelected member of an outdated, elitist nobility to tell an elected leader of a former colony to “shut up” is the height of inappropriateness and ruling class snobbery.

I hear that runaway spending to support social programs is unsustainable because of Venezuela’s dependency on oil. Is Hugo Chavez ruining Venezuela’s economy?

It’s good to remember that social spending that educates people, keeps people healthy, and increases the buying power of the populace is basically good for the economy. In Venezuela, health care is being made available to everyone, the society is highly literate, with half of all citizens getting some kind of education at all age levels, and the buying power of the average Venezuelan is increasing. The Venezuelan economy has been steadily growing ever since workers broke the economic sabotage of 2002.

Last year, for the first time since the oil boom of the 60s and 70s, oil money has provided less than half of Venezuela’s national budget. Oil money is, indeed, being used to diversify the economy. For instance, Venezuela is especially vulnerable in its agricultural development. However, since land reform laws were adopted in the late 90s, five million acres of fallow land, plus training and farming equipment, have been given to families and coops, providing over one million Venezuelans with an income. During the land reform that was in place in Venezuela from the late 60s until the late 90s, only three and a half million acres were turned over.

Isn’t it true that President Chavez and the Venezuelan government are ignoring environmental concerns and pushing oil development without concern for its impact on nature? Isn’t it also true that the communities that suffer most from oil and mining development are indigenous communities, since so many resources are located on indigenous lands?

Venezuela, like other countries, has ecological problems. Most of these precede the Bolivarian revolution. Also, it is impossible to develop oil and mining resources without doing damage to the environment. Nevertheless, the seeds of ecological revolution can be found within the Bolivarian process.

One of the reasons Venezuela has given for demanding majority control of oil development is because of the bad environmental record of big oil companies. Venezuela is prioritizing environmental restoration after undertaking new oil or mining projects, particularly in regards to protecting and restoring rivers. Venezuela is well aware that, with Brazil, it has the largest freshwater reserves in the world -- a resource more precious than oil. For the first time in Venezuelan history, affected indigenous communities are involved in all decisions about whether or not to develop these resources.

Venezuela has a policy of regarding its natural resources as being for the benefit of all the people. A percentage of oil profits are required by law to go into social programs, and oil money is funding many environmental protection and rehabilitation programs. Oil money has brought new schools, water purification plants, health clinics, etc. not only to urban populations, but also to rural and indigenous communities. Only the most foolishly idealistic would fail to see that, at this point, it is Venezuela’s oil and mineral wealth that provides the funds necessary to move beyond oil dependency and toward environmental sustainability.

Bolivarian Venezuela has made a commitment to its indigenous communities, returning hundreds of thousands of acres of ancestral land and enacting constitutional protections that are an example to other American nations. Likewise, Venezuela has made a strong ecological commitment, actively seeking to raise consciousness throughout the nation. Environmental initiatives include efforts to plant young trees around the country, to expand public transportation, to restore urban waterways, support sustainable agriculture, and to restrict heavy industrial fishing. Venezuela has begun programs such as the Garbage for Food and the Revolutionary Light Bulb programs, wherein people can trade in bags of garbage for food, and old, energy wasteful light bulbs for newer, more efficient ones.

What is the relationship of Venezuela and Iran, and why is Hugo Chavez so friendly with its President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

Venezuela and Iran have a long history of relations that precede the election of either President Chavez or President Ahmadinejad. This relationship was solidified by the founding of OPEC. This relationship is economic, not ideological, and has been maintained throughout ideological shifts in both countries. Besides, Venezuela does not make the mistake of identifying a current leader with a whole nation. For instance, even though Bolivarian Venezuela is outspokenly opposed to the warring of the Bush administration, it still maintains a high level of trade and engagement with the United States, and even provides humanitarian assistance to poor communities in the US.

Venezuela also recognizes that Iran is being targeted for possible acts of aggression by the United States and others, and thus it is standing in solidarity with the people of Iran against a possible invasion or bombing campaign. Nor is the irony missed that the largest stockpiler of nuclear weapons in the world ... the United States ... believes it has the right to police the nuclear programs of Iran and other countries. There is no indication that the Iranian nuclear program is aimed at development of a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, there is no US concern about Israel, which is home to a large and illegal nuclear weapons stockpile ... the only nuclear nation in the Middle East.

Corporate Press likes to make a great deal of noise any time President Chavez is seen visiting, shaking hands, or giving a hug to President Ahmadinejad or Cuba’s President Fidel Castro. Yet, there are photos of President Chavez giving hugs to Pope John Paul II, former US president Bill Clinton, Colombian president Alvaro Uribe … just to name a few. When President Chavez greets president Uribe in such a manner, this does not indicate approval of Uribe’s close associations with leaders of paramilitary death squads. In fact, President Chavez and Uribe come from opposite political ideologies. President Chavez is a diplomat who meets with many heads of state, in great part to avert confrontations and aggressions. Those who carry on the most about President Chavez making state visits with Iran and its leader are those who are most interested in going to war with Iran and with overthrowing democracy in Venezuela.

Why do the Venezuelan people and Hugo Chavez, in particular, hate the United States?

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Any US citizen who believes this should go to Venezuela and experience the warmth and generosity of its people.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Lost" Nukes: Treason

Missing Nukes on August 29-30, 2007
According to a wide range of reports, several nuclear bombs were “lost” for 36 hours after taking off August 29/30, 2007 on a “cross-country journey” across the U.S., from U.S.A.F Base Minot in North Dakota to U.S.A.F. Base Barksdale in Louisiana. Reportedly, in total there were six W80-1 nuclear warheads armed on AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missiles (ACMs) that were “lost.” The story was first reported by the Military Times, after military servicemen leaked the story.

It is also worth noting that on August 27, 2007, just days before the "lost" nukes incident, three B-52 Bombers were performing special missions under the direct authorization of General Moseley, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force. The exercise was reported as being an aerial information and image gathering mission. The base at Minot is also home of the 91st Space Wings, a unit under the command of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC).

According to official reports, the U.S. Air Force pilots did not know that they were carrying weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Once in Louisiana, they also left the nuclear weapons unsecured on the runway for several hours.

U.S. Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans, and Requirements, Major-General Richard Y. Newton III commented on the incident, saying there was an “unprecedented” series of procedural errors, which revealed “an erosion of adherence to weapons-handling standards.”
These statements are misleading. The lax security was not the result of procedural negligence within the U.S. Air Force, but rather the consequence of a deliberate tampering of these procedures.

If a soldier, marine, airman, or sailor were even to be issued a rifle and rifle magazine — weaponry of a far lesser significance, danger, and cost — there is a strict signing and accountability process that involves a chain of command and paperwork. This is part of the set of military checks and balances used by all the services within the U.S. Armed Forces.

Military servicemen qualified to speak on the subject will confirm that there is a stringent nuclear weapons handling procedure. There is a rigorous, almost inflexible, chain of command in regards to the handling of nuclear weapons and not just any soldier, sailor, airman, or marine is allowed to handle nuclear weapons. Only servicemen specialized in specific handling and loading procedures, are perm certified to handle, access and load nuclear warheads.

Every service personnel that moves or even touches these weapons must sign a tracking paper and has total accountability for their movement. There is good reason for the paperwork behind moving these weapons. The military officers that order the movement of nuclear weapons, including base commanders, must also fill out paper forms.
In other words, unauthorized removal of nuclear weapons would be virtually impossible to accomplish unless the chain of command were bypassed, involving, in this case, the deliberate tampering of the paperwork and tracking procedures.
The strategic bombers that carried the nuclear weapons also could not fly with their loaded nuclear weaponry without the authorization of senior military officials and the base commander. The go-ahead authorization of senior military officials must be transmitted to the servicemen that upload the nuclear weapons. Without this authorization no flights can take place.

In the case of the missing nukes, orders were given and flight permission was granted. Once again, any competent and eligible U.S. Air Force member can certify that this is the standard procedure.

There are two important questions to be answered in relation to the "lost" nukes incident:

1. Who gave the order to arm the W80-1 thermonuclear warheads on the AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missiles (ACMs)? At what level in the military hierarchy did this order originate? How was the order transmitted down the command chain?

2. If this was not a procedural error, what was the underlying military-political objective sought by those who gave the orders?

The Impossibility of "Losing" Nuclear Weapons
As Robert Stormer, a former U.S. lieutenant-commander in the U.S. Navy has commented: “Press reports initially cited the Air Force mistake of flying nuclear weapons over the United States in violation of Air Force standing orders and international treaties, while completely missing the more important major issues, such as how six nuclear cruise missiles got loose to begin with.”
Stormer also makes a key point, which is not exactly a secret: “There is a strict chain of custody for all such weapons. Nuclear weapons handling is spelled out in great detail in Air Force regulations, to the credit of that service. Every person who orders the movement of these weapons, handles them, breaks seals or moves any nuclear weapon must sign off for tracking purposes.”

Stormer continues:
“Two armed munitions specialists are required to work as a team with all nuclear weapons. All individuals working with nuclear weapons must meet very strict security standards and be tested for loyalty — this is known as a ‘[Nuclear Weapons] Personnel Reliability Program [DoDD 5210 42].’ They work in restricted areas within eyeshot of one another and are reviewed constantly.”
Stormer unwraps the whole Pentagon cover-up by pointing out some logical facts and military procedures. First he reveals that: “All security forces assigned [to handle and protect nuclear weapons] are authorized to use deadly force to protect the weapons from any threat [including would-be thieves].”
He then points out a physical reality that can not be shrugged aside: “Nor does anyone quickly move a 1-ton cruise missile — or forget about six of them, as reported by some news outlets, especially cruise missiles loaded with high explosives.”

He further explains another physical and procedural reality about nuclear weapons assembly:

“The United States also does not transport nuclear weapons meant for elimination attached to their launch vehicles under the wings of a combat aircraft. The procedure is to separate the warhead from the missile, encase the warhead and transport it by military cargo aircraft to a repository — not an operational bomber base that just happens to be the staging area for Middle Eastern operations.”
This last point raises the question of what were the nuclear weapons meant for? In this context, Stomrer puts forth the following list of important questions to which he demands an answer:

1. Why, and for what ostensible purpose, were these nuclear weapons taken to Barksdale?
2. How long was it before the error was discovered?
3. How many mistakes and errors were made, and how many needed to be made, for this to happen?
4. How many and which security protocols were overlooked?
5. How many and which safety procedures were bypassed or ignored?
6. How many other nuclear command and control non-observations of procedure have there been?
7. What is Congress going to do to better oversee U.S. nuclear command and control?
8. How does this incident relate to concern for reliability of control over nuclear weapons and nuclear materials in Russia, Pakistan and elsewhere?
9. Does the Bush administration, as some news reports suggest, have plans to attack Iran with nuclear weapons?

It is a matter of perception, whether it is “clear” or “unclear”, as to why the nuclear warheads had not been removed beforehand from the missiles.

For those who have been observing these series of “unclear” events it is becoming “clear” that a criminal government is at the helm of the United States. There was no way that the six nuclear missiles could have been “mistakenly” loaded, especially when their separate warheads had to be affixed to the missiles by individuals specialized in such a momentous task.
It is also being claimed that military teams in both U.S.A.F. Base Minot and U.S.A.F. Base Barksdale made major "procedural errors". What are the probabilities of this occurring simultaneously in two locations?

It is also worth noting that original reports from military sources talked about only five of the six nuclear warheads from Minot being accounted for in Barksdale. Nuclear warheads are also kept in specialized storage areas or bunkers. Moreover, nuclear weapons are not being decommissioned at Barksdale.

The Role of the Nuclear Weapons Surety Program: What happened to Electronic Monitoring?
The Nuclear Weapons Surety Program is a joint program between the U.S. Department of Defence and the U.S. Department of Energy. The National Security Agency (NSA) is also involved as well as other U.S. federal government agencies. The Nuclear Weapons System Safety Program is part of this program, which involves a monitoring and safeguards regime for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
The Nuclear Weapons Security Standard falls under the Nuclear Weapons Surety Program and is in place to disallow any “unauthorized access to nuclear weapons; prevent damage or sabotage to nuclear weapons; prevent loss of custody; and prevent, to the maximum extent possible, radiological contamination caused by unauthorized acts.”
Under this or these safeguards system there also exists a rigorous control of use scheme, which is tied to the military chain of command and the White House.

“Command and Control (C2)” and “Use Control”

“Use control” is a set of security measures designed to prevent unauthorized access to nuclear weapons. These measures involve weapons design features, operational procedures, security, and system safety rules.

“Command and Control” or “C2” involves the Office of the President of the United States of America. C2 is an established line of command, which is tied to the White House. Without it, nuclear weapons cannot be deployed or armed as they were in U.S.A.F. Base Minot. It is these two control elements that establish the basis of authorization through which “absolute control of nuclear weapons” is maintained “at all times.”
In addition to the checks and balances in place in regards to handling nuclear weapons, the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and its partners manually and electronically inspect and monitor all U.S. nuclear weapons through the Nuclear Weapon Status Information Systems.

More Unanswered Questions: What Happened to the Computerized Tracking System?

The Nuclear Management Information Systems “interface with each other and provide [the U.S. Department of Defence] with the ability to track the location of nuclear weapons and components from cradle-to-grave [meaning from when they are made to when they are decommissioned].”

The Military Times also makes an omission that exposes the official narrative as false and indicates that the event was not just a mistake: “The Defense Department uses a computerized tracking program to keep tabs on each one of its nuclear warheads, said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. For the six warheads to make it onto the B-52, each one would have had to be signed out of its storage bunker and transported to the bomber.”

This is where the chain of command in regards to military officers falls into play. If any of the stocked inventories of nuclear weapons are moved to an authorized location they will be noticed and tracked by the DTRA and will require the relevant authorization. There is also a code system involved that is tied to the chain of command.

The fact that the incident only apparently became known to the U.S. Air Force when military personnel reported it, suggests that either the nuclear weapons were ordered to be moved or that the electronic tracking devices had been removed or tampered with. This scenario would need the involvement of individuals with expertise in military electronics or for those responsible for the monitoring of nuclear weapons to look the other way or both.
Mysterious Deaths in the United States Air Force: Whitewash and Cover-up
Several military personnel died under mysterious circumstances shortly before and after the incident. There are now questions regarding the fate of these individuals in the U.S. Air Force who could have had relationships in one way or another to the incident or possibly have been directly involved. It is also necessary to state that there is no proof that these deaths are linked to the August flight from Minot to Barksdale in question.

Citizens for Legitimate Government has pointed towards the involvement of the U.S. Air Force in a cover-up and has linked several deaths of U.S. servicemen to the incident. Lori Price has also stated for Citizens for a Legitimate Government that “you need about fourteen signatures to get an armed nuke on a B-52.”

Based on several news sources, including the U.S. military, we provide below a detailed review of these mysterious and untimely deaths of U.S. servicemen.
Airman 1st Class Todd Blue went on leave days after the nuclear weapons were “lost.” Blue died under questionable timing while on leave, visiting his family in Wytheville, Virginia at the age of 20 on September 10, 2007. He was a response force member assigned to the 5th Security Forces Squadron. What does this mean?

Airman Todd Blue occupied a key position in weapons systems security at Minot. At Minot U.S.A.F. Base the 5th Security Forces Squadron to which he belonged was responsible for base entry requirements and a particular section, the Weapons System Security section, was responsible for preventing the unauthorized removal of military property. The latter is responsible for security of all priority resources, meaning the security of nuclear weapons. In other words not only did the 5th Security Forces Squadron keep eyes on what entered and left Minot, but they kept an eye on and monitored the nuclear weapons.
U.S. Air Force Captain John Frueh is another serviceman who could have been indirectly connected to the “lost” nuclear weapons. He was reported as being last seen with a GPS device, camera, and camcorder being carried with him in a backpack. Local police in Oregon and the F.B.I. seemed to be looking for him for days. His family also felt that something bad had happened to him.

On September 8, 2007 Captain Frueh was found dead in Washington State, near his abandoned rental car, after the Portland Police Department contacted the Skamania County Sheriff’s Officer. The last time he spoke with his family was August 30, 2007. He had arrived from Florida to attend a wedding that he never showed up at. The Oregonian reported that “Authorities in Portland found no activity on his credit or bank cards since [Frueh] was last seen (...) [and that] the last call from his cell phone was made at 12:28 p.m. [August 30, 2007] from Mill Plain Boulevard and Interstate 205 in Vancouver [Washington State].”

His background was in meteorology and the study of the atmosphere and weather. He was also reported to be a U.S. Air Force pararescue officer. He was also a major-select candidate, which means he was selected for a promotion as a U.S. Air Force major, but was not officially promoted.
Captain Frueh belonged to the U.S.A.F. Special Operations Command. U.S.A.F. Special Operations Command has its headquarters in Hurlburt Field, Florida and is one of nine major Air Force commands. It is also the U.S. Air Force’s component of U.S. Special Operations Command, a unified command located at MacDill Air Force Base, which is also in Florida. The force provides special operations forces for worldwide deployment and assignment to regional unified commands, such as CENTCOM. Its missions include conduct of global special operations. These operations — and this is where careful attention should be paid — range from “precision application of firepower, such as nuclear weapons,” to infiltration, exfiltration (the removal of “devices,” supplies, spies, special agents, or units from enemy territory), re-supply and refuelling of special operational elements.
In Captain Frueh’s case his death is questionable too. The U.S. Air Force would not let a missing persons’ investigation go forward by the police without conducting its own investigation. Usually the different service branches of the U.S. military would investigate for missing servicemen, to see if these individuals are Absent Without Authorized Leave (AWAL) or have deserted, before an individual’s case is handed over to the police.
Another military weatherman, along with his wife, also died after August 30, 2007. Senior Airman Clint Huff, belonging to the 26th Operational Weather Squadron and his wife Linda Huff died in a motorcycle accident on September 15, 2007. The husband and wife fatality happened on Shreveport-Blanchard Highway, near U.S.A.F. Base Barksdale, when according to the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Officer a Pontiac Aztec, a medium-sized SUV, initiated a left turn at the same time that the couple attempted to pass on a no passing zone and collided.

First-Lieutenant Weston Kissel, a B-52H Stratofortress Bomber pilot, also died in a reported Tennessee motorcycle accident. This was while he was on leave in, less than two months from the nuclear B-52 flights, on July 17, 2007. His death came after another single-vehicle accident by another Minot serviceman, Senior Airman Adam Barrs.

Senior Airman Barrs died as a passenger in a vehicle being driven by Airman 1st Class Stephen Garrett, also from Minot. Garrett, also belongs to the 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

The death of Barrs was reported as being part of a single-vehicle car accident. Associated Press reports state that “[Minot] Base officials say 20-year-old Barrs was a passenger in a vehicle that failed to negotiate a curve, hit an approach, hit a tree and started on fire late Tuesday [July 3, 2007] night.” Barrs was pronounced dead on the scene of the accident, while Garrett was taken the hospital with no updates released by the U.S. Air Force. Adam Barrs also belonged to the 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, where he was responsible for the maintenance and securing of the electronic communicational and navigation mission systems aboard the B-52H Stratofortresses on base. The 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron is also one of the units that are responsible for loading and unloading weaponry onto the B-52H Stratofortresses.

The deaths of Kissel and Barrs could be dismissed as irrelevant because they occurred prior to the incident. However, Barrs and Kissel could have been in one way or another connected to the advanced planning of the special operation, prior to the incident (special operations are not planned in a few days and may take months and even longer). There is, of course, no proof and only an independent investigation will be able to reveal whether these deaths are connected to the incident.

If there was an internal and secretive operation bypassing most military personnel, a few men in key positions would have to have been involved over a period of time prior to the August 29/30, 2007 flight. Senior Airman Barrs, due to his expertise in communication and navigational systems, could potentially have been involved in the preparations that would have allowed the nuclear weapons to escape detection by military surveillance and be ready for takeoff.
Reprimands, Replacements and Reassignments in the U.S.A.F. Chain of Command
Senior officers, including three colonels and a lieutenant-colonel, are among seventy personnel that will reportedly be disciplined for negligence and for allowing a B-52H Stratofortress Bomber to fly across the U.S. carrying six nuclear-armed cruise missiles that should never have been loaded under its wings.
According to the Military Times, George W. Bush Jr. had been swiftly informed. This is a lockstep procedure. This illustrates the importance tied to the authorization needed for handling nuclear weapons. This is part of a two-way process in regards to authorization from the White House.

The commander of the 5th Munitions Squadron and the commander of the 5th Bomb Wing, Colonel Bruce Emig, have been replaced along with a series of other senior officers. This implies that the U.S. Air Force chain of command is directly involved in this event. None of these senior officers have been authorized to speak or make statements, according to U.S. military sources. Will any of these officers receive lucrative departure packages? Have they been reassigned?

More generally, the nature of the reprimands directed against senior officers involved has not been fully disclosed.
The “memory” of the incident is being erased through a reorganization of the ranks and a purge at U.S.A.F. Base Minot. The streamlining of the chain of command as well as the mysterious deaths of personnel who could have been involved in the incident, raise a series of far-reaching questions.

There are several important issues regarding the senior officers’ chain of command at Minot, which will be addressed in this article. Once again, the most important questions in regards to the missing nukes are: Who gave the orders and authorization for the operation and what where the underlying objectives of loading armed nuclear missiles?
Other Mysterious Deaths: Was the Missing Nukes Incident connected to US War Plans directed against Iran?
A U.S. Air Force official, Charles D. Riechers, has been found dead on October 14, 2007. Riechers was a retired Air Force officer and master navigator specializing in electronic warfare. He was a member of the Senior Executive Service of the U.S. Air Force, and was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition and Management. A description of his duties includes “providing sound expert advice and guidance on acquisition and procurement policies, as well as formulating, reviewing and, as assigned, execution of plans, programs and policies relating to organization, function, operation and improvement of the Air Force’s acquisition system.”
He apparently killed himself by running his car’s engine inside his suburban garage in Virginia. The death of Charles D. Riechers has been casually linked by The Washington Post to his involvement in fraudulent activities and embezzlement. The Washington Post reported that the Air Force had asked defense contractor, Commonwealth Research Institute (C.R.I.), to give him a job with no known duties while he waited for official clearance for his promoted rank in the Pentagon. Riechers is quoted as saying: “I really didn’t do anything for C.R.I.,” and “I [still] got a paycheck from them.” The question, of course, was whether the contractor might expect favours in return upon his assignment to the Pentagon last January. A mysterious suicide letter expressing shame was subsequently reported; the letter was reportedly from a man who had already admitted without shame that he was receiving money for doing nothing. This was known to the U.S. Senate, which had approved his promotion.
In a report featured by Pravda, Russian Intelligence analysts have said that the reported suicide of Charles D. Riechers was a cover-up and that he was murdered because of his involvement in the controversial flight of nuclear weapons over the continental United States.
Pravda reports that “Russian Intelligence Analysts are reporting today that American War Leaders have ‘suicided’ [sic] one of their Top US Air Force Officials Charles D. Riechers as the rift growing between the U.S. War Leaders and their Top Military Officers over a nuclear attack on Iran appears to be nearing open warfare.”
According to the Pravda report, the incident was linked to an operation to smuggle nuclear weapons away from the U.S. military in connection to launching a war against Iran.

The Commonwealth Research Institute (CRI), a registered non-profit organization is a subsidiary of Concurrent Technologies, which is registered with the IRS as a tax-exempt charity, which is run by Daniel Richard DeVos. Devos is also an associate of John P. Murtha, who was investigated by the F.B.I. for his Saudi links.
Certainly the ties of the Commonwealth Research Institute (CRI), a non-profit organization working for the Pentagon, are questionable and the organization could be a front for internal operations that bypass most military personnel. The case appears to be part of an internal operation that was being kept a secret from most of the U.S. military, but what for?
More than a month before the death of Riechers, General Russell Elliot Dougherty, a retired flag officer, was also reported to have died on September 7, 2007 at his home in Falcon Landing military retirement community in Potomac Falls located in Arlington, Virginia. He once was one of the most senior individuals responsible for the nuclear arsenal of the U.S. military and also the former commander of Strategic Air Command (SAC) and director of the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff, which identified nuclear targets worldwide amongst its responsibilities. At Minot next to his obituary was a military information notice on suicide, telling servicepersons what the signs of suicide are.

Russell Dougherty in the course of his military career in the U.S. Air Force had dealt with the issues pertaining to Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), full spectrum dominance, how to defeat the enemy and avoid a nuclear war, other uses for nuclear weaponry, Nuclear Primacy for the U.S., and tackling the effects of the wind and weather — due to their unpredictable natures — on the use of nuclear weapons.

The fact that the nuclear warheads were attached to the nuclear cruise missiles could mean that someone wanted to take the weapons in one step or to use them right away.

Timely Appointments at U.S.A.F. Base Minot

Several of the commanding officers at Minot were freshly appointed in June, 2007. This may have been part of standard procedures, but the timing should not be ignored.

Colonel Robert D. Critchlow was transferred, just before the incident, from the Pentagon to Minot and appointed commanding officer for the 91st Operations Group, a missilery unit and the operational backbone of the 91st Space Wing. In Washington, D.C. he was involved in research for the Congressional Research Services and later posted into Air Force Nuclear Response and Homeland Defence.

Colonel Myron L. Freeman was transferred from Japan to Minot in June, 2007. Colonel Freeman was appointed as the commander of the 91st Security Forces Group, which is responsible for securing Minot’s nuclear arsenal.

Colonel Gregory S. Tims was also appointed as deputy commander or vice-commander of the 91st Space Wing in June, 2007. However, Colonel Tims was transferred to Minot from California almost a year before.

One of the most senior non-commissioned officers (NCOs) or non-commissioned members (NCMs), Chief Master Sergeant Mark R. Clark, was also transferred to U.S.A.F. Base Minot from Nebraska in July, 2007.

Colonel Roosevelt Allen was also transferred to Minot from Washington, D.C. to become commander of the 5th Medical Group.

Colonel Bruce Emig, the now-former commander of the 5th Bomb Wing, was also transferred to Minot from U.S.A.F. Base Ellsworth in South Dakota in June, 2007. Colonel Emig was also the base commander of Minot.

Colonel Cynthia M. Lundell, the now-former group commander for the 5th Maintenance Group, the unit responsible for loading and unloading weaponry onto the B-52H Stratofortresses was also freshly transferred from a NATO post in Western Europe in June, 2007. Were these appointments temporary? Were any of these appointments related to the six “lost” nuclear missiles?

Prior to the Missing Nukes Incident, Minot Airmen Meet with the President and the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff

On June 15, 2007, George W. Bush Jr. met senior officers from U.S.A.F. Base Minot at U.S.A.F. Base McConnell in Wichita, Kansas during a visit to Boeing’s Integrated Defense Systems facility. Amongst them was Major Daniel Giacomazza of the 5th Operational Support Squadron.

Senator Patrick Roberts of Kansas was also present. “While he chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee from 2002 to 2007, [Senator] Roberts stonewalled attempts to investigate everything from the manipulation of intelligence in the rush to war in Iraq, President Bush’s warrantless wiretaps, and even allegations of the use of torture by the CIA,” according to Associated Press (AP) reports. The same report also indicates that the U.S. President was in Wichita for a political fundraiser, and stopped at a new Boys and Girls Club of America to defray the costs of getting to Wichita via Air Force One for Senator Roberts’ campaign.

Military sources have reported that a B-52H Stratofortress was flown to Wichita so that Boeing’s engineers could take a look in order to make adjustments to the war planes for a new military program. Nothing has been reported about any private meetings between President Bush Jr. or any of his presidential staff and the personnel from Minot. However, reports have been made of meetings between military families and the U.S. President in his office on Air Force One.

General Moseley, the Air Force Chief of Staff, had previously visited Minot on March 14-15, 2007, a month before Minot airmen went to Wichita. [32] If a secret mission was being prepared, these events could have played a role in the recruiting phases for an important internal special operation. Following their recruitment, Minot servicemen could have symbolically met General Moseley or White House officials to understand that the mission was being sanctioned by the highest ranks and offices in the United States.

Orders had to Come from the Top: Treason of the Highest Order
Orders had to come from higher up


The operation would not have been possible without the involvement of more than one individual in the highest ranks of the U.S. Air Force command structure and the Pentagon.

The only way to bypass these separate chains of command is “to be above them” (from higher up), as well as have the possibility of directly overseeing their implementation.

These orders would then have been communicated to lower levels in the US Air Force command chain in different locations, to allow for a so-called “oversight” to proceed. The alternative to this is “an alternative chain of command,” although this also needs someone in the highest ranks of office to organize and oversee.
The post given to Riechers was politically motivated, given his track record in the U.S. Air Force. Riechers had been in a position of responsibility in the U.S. Air Force special operational support activities; something he had in common with Russell Dougherty, the former SAC commander. He would have been one of the best suited individuals for making arrangements in the case of an alternative command structure for a secretive nuclear operation. Moreover, he already had a record of corrupt behaviour through his involvement with the Commonwealth Research Institute. The possible involvement of U.S. Air Force weathermen and special operatives raises many questions as to what exactly was the objective of making the nuclear weapons disappear.

The Investigation

The U.S. Air Force has publicly stated that it has made a “mistake,” which is very unusual and almost unprecedented for a military organization that tries to continually assure the American public of their safety.

The fact that seventy or more military personnel have been punished in the case of the “lost” nuclear weapons does not mean, however, that the senior commanding officers responsible for having carried out the special operation will be identified and punished.

Quite the opposite. The investigation could indeed result in a camouflage of the chain of command, where lower-ranking military personnel are accused and court-martialed, with a view to ultimately protecting those in high offices who have committed an act of treason.

The series of deaths mentioned above, may have no ties whatsoever with the August flight in question from Minot to Barksdale, but the issues of command, monitoring, and authorization cannot be overlooked or ignored. The American people have before them a case of treason that involves the highest offices of government and most probably the offices of the President and the Vice-President.

Once again, the “C2” process involves the Office of the President and Commander-in-Chief. It is an established line of command, without which nuclear weapons could not have been deployed or armed as they were in U.S.A.F. Base Minot. It is this command element that establishes the basis of authorization through which “absolute control of nuclear weapons” is maintained “at all times.”
With time it is possible that military servicemen and servicewomen may come forward with more information.

However, in the meantime, there has been a streamlining of military personnel at U.S.A.F. Minot. Base personnel have become dispersed and reassigned to other locations.

If they on the grounds of loyalty to their country, the United States of America, come forward and reveal what has taken place, they are to be saluted with full honour by all ranks. As George Orwell said, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act,” and indeed these are deceitful times.
The fact that U.S. Air Force officers came forward and reported this incident is contrary to U.S. military procedures, regulations, and laws. The U.S. military will never release any information that will risk or damage its reputation. Any information in regards to nuclear weapons can not be released without prior consultations with and authorization by the White House.

The nuclear weapons were armed and moved deliberately. Orders had to have come from the highest echelons of the U.S. government.

The question is what exactly were they meant for? Were they part of a war agenda or something else?

Bush Threatens Iran with Nuclear Weapons

What adds intrigue to an understanding of the missing nukes, are the international events and war games taking place just after the “lost” nuclear weapons incident, not to mention the President’s ongoing threats to attack Iran with nuclear weapons and Vice President Cheney's repeated warnings that a second large scale terrorist attack on America is under preparation, with the support of Iran.

In the U.S., under the Vigilant Shield 2008 war games (initiated in September, 2007) and the TOPOFF anti-terrorism exercises, some form of nuclear terrorist attack on American soil had been envisaged. The roles of Russia and China had also been contemplated. The latter would be “a likely scenario” had the U.S. attacked Iran and as a result Russia and China had decided to intervene. Under Vigilant Shield 2007, held in 2006, the possibility of a nuclear war with Iran’s allies, Russia and China, had been contemplated in the war games scenario.

The Kremlin has responded by holding its own war games.

An unveiled threat to trigger World War Three has been the response of George W. Bush Jr. to Russia’s statements warning that a U.S. sponsored war with Iran, could result in an escalating World War III scenario.

The six nuclear warheads were not meant for use in theatre operations against Iran. This is obvious because if they were then they would have been deployed via the proper procedural routes without the need to hide anything. Besides, there are already theatre-level nuclear weapons ready and armed in Europe and the Middle East for any possible Middle Eastern mission. There was something more to the incident.

It is also worth noting that the Israelis launched an attack on an alleged Syrian nuclear facility that both Tel Aviv and the White House claim was constructed with the assistance of North Korea. This event has been used, through official statements and media disinformation, to draw a Syria-Iran-North Korea nuclear proliferation axis.

In regards to the case of the missing nuclear weapons, weathermen and military personnel with an expertise in space and missile components were involved. The incident took place during a time when the U.S. missile shield projects in Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia, directed against Russia and China, were raising international tensions and alarms. On October 23, 2007, President Bush Jr. stated: “The need for missile defence in Europe is real and I believe it’s urgent.”

Nuclear warfare, the militarization of space, and “the missile shield” are interrelated military processes. The overtones of Nuclear Primacy are hanging in the air. One of the goals of the U.S. military has been to effectively shield itself from a potential Russian or potential Russian and Chinese nuclear response to a nuclear “First Strike” from the U.S. military. The militarization of space is also deeply linked to this military project. Like their advanced knowledge about the U.S. missile shield project, Russian and Chinese officials have got wind of these ambitions and are fully aware of what the U.S. intends to do.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hollywood vs Persia

For many Iranians the cinematic movie '300' may come as a shocking revelation. But to those who came up through America's school system, the 'Battle of Thermopylae,' which is what the movie '300' is based on, is as familiar as George Washington's fabled "cherry tree" incident.

The Battle of Thermopylae was of course written by the classical Greek author Herodotus, who lived in the Persian city of Halicarnassus. His book, 'The Histories' became part of Western folklore only recently. It wasn't until about 1850 that America embraced Herodotus as the leading authority on Persian history.

Before 1850, however, the West had a very favorable impression of the Persian Empire. That's because the West's main source for Persian history was the Bible and the 'Cyropaedia,' written by another Greek author named Xenophon.

But the Cyropaedia glorified the monarchy of Cyrus The Great, and in the wake of two bloody revolutions fought by America and France to liberate themselves from their own monarchies, a major campaign began, around the mid 19th century, to promote democracy throughout the rest of Europe, and Herodotus was the perfect propaganda tool.

Herodotus was a democratic groupie and was quickly ushered in as the "Father Of History." Around 1850, his 'Battle Of Thermopylae' came to symbolize the West's struggle for democracy against the powerful forces of Persia's monarchy.

The story is easy to buy into: 300 brave Spartans saved Western democracy from 2.7 million evil Persians. But aside from the fanciful numbers, which need decimal-point adjustments, this whimsical tale has far graver consequences than a mere bias account of history.

The 'Battle Of Thermopylae' has been the single most powerful wedge, which has divided East and West for over 2 millennia. In a time when East and West should be reconciling their differences, along comes the movie '300' to drive that wedge even deeper.

What is most disturbing about this movie is not that it lacks historical accuracy. It is not that Xerxes, the Grandson of Cyrus The Great and loving husband of Esther, is shown as an oversized drag queen. It’s not even the outdated racist cliché of casting the Persians as Africans and the Spartans as white, blue-eyed Chippendale dancers, when in reality the roles may well have been reversed.

What is so distressing about this movie is the realization of the tremendous power Hollywood wields in determining a people's identity. It is the same nightmare Native Americans endured during the whole 'cowboy-movie' genre.

But for those who are quick to dismiss '300' as a fleeting fantasy flick aimed at the insignificant, 17 to 24 year-old male video gamer, think again. First there was Alexander, now '300,' next could well be the 'Battle Of Marathon,' another one of Herodotus's glowing accounts of ancient Persia.

Herodotus is accepted blindly by virtually all Western demographics. Even the New York Times is not immune. Here is how it described the Persians in its April 20, 2004 issue on the Battle Of Marathon:
 "The defeat of a ruthless state (Persia) that had enslaved much of the known world from the Balkans to the Himalayas."
 "The ancient Greeks defeated the Asian invaders (Persia) and saved Europe in what scholars call one of the first great victories of freedom over tyranny"
- William J. Broad, (NY Times)

What stretches the limits of hypocrisy is that there isn't a single shred of archeological evidence that the Persians ever owned slaves. Yet we know that slavery was an integral cornerstone of Greek society. Aristotle's manifesto even sanctions it. Persia, which was once a haven for runaway slaves from Egypt, Greece, and later Rome, is today branded as a slave-hungry empire by cultures that were built on slavery!

What makes Herodotus's propaganda so difficult to refute is that it’s peppered with facts. But in reality, it’s a desperate diatribe. Perhaps his biggest ploy is his attempt to equate democracy with freedom. These two words are used virtually interchangeably throughout his book, and the West has swallowed it hook-line-and-sinker. But America's founding fathers knew better; Herodotus did not sway them. They implemented many safeguards to protect freedom from the pitfalls that mired Athenian democracy. Even Winston Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others which have been tried."

Democracy may well be the best form of government, but what makes America great is not so much democracy as it is its Bill Of Rights. This is exactly what made Persia Great. Democracy can often lead to tyranny by the majority, as was the case in democratic Athens, where women, slaves and foreigners did not have the right to vote.

In monarchic Persia, however, women enjoyed a level of gender equality unmatched even to this day, and slavery was not practiced. The fact is, Persia's monarchy was freer than Athens' democracy, all because of Persia's Bill Of Rights.

No one exemplifies Persia's freedom better than Herodotus himself. He describes Athens as the bastion of freedom, yet he chose to live in Persia. Xenophon, on the other hand, who actually lived in Athens, reminisces enviably about the monarchy of Cyrus The Great?

Herodotus claims Persia had enslaved most of the known world, yet we know Herodotus was not a slave. He traveled freely throughout the empire, openly criticizing it. Why did Herodotus not live in Greece? Because Persia - the empire he is so quick to demonize - afforded him the very freedom to publish his scathing report of it. People want to live where their god-given rights are protected, regardless of whether it’s democratic or monarchic.

The founder of the Persian Empire, Cyrus The Great, first drafted these god-given rights into law. In fact, ancient Persia may well have served as the blue print for America's Bill Of Rights. Both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the architects of America's Constitution, were great admirers and owned several copies of Xenophon's Cyropaedia.

Today, no other country resembles ancient Persia as closely as does the United States. If any country should sympathize with, rather than celebrate, Persia's quagmire in Greece it is the United States. Few events in history mirror America's war on terror as closely as Persia's war on Greece.

The Greeks had been carrying out terrorist attacks on Persian holdings for years. They had attacked Persian cities, set fire to Persian temples, disrupted key trade routes, and pirated merchant ships crossing the Bosphorus. They incited rebellions inside Persian provinces, but perhaps most abhorrent to the Persians was the ease by which the Greeks broke their treaties and betrayed Persia's trust.

Rather than resort to violence, however, Persia tried to keep the Greeks in check by financially supporting Greek politicians who were "pro-Persian," much the same way America fights its proxy wars. But what finally triggered Persia's wrath was an act rarely mentioned in the West, though well documented, even by Herodotus (7:11).

Persia's 9/11:
In 498 BCE, Athens carried out a terrorist attack on Sardis, a major Persian city, which made 9/11 seem like child's play. Aristagoras, an Athenian, set fire to the "outlying parts" of Sardis trapping most of its population "in a ring of fire." (Herodotus 5:101)

More innocent civilians died at the hands of Aristagoras than Osama bin Laden could ever hope to kill; and just as most of the world supported America's retaliation against Al Qaeda, so did it rally in support of Persia's attack on Athens.

The Spartans were not even targets of Persia's attack, until they violated a universal protocol by killing a Persian messenger who Herodotus claims was asking for Sparta's submission but in reality was probably sent by Persia's king, Xerxes to convey the same message George Bush sent to the entire world after 9/11: "you're either with us, or against us."

The Spartans were Greek Jihadists who lived only to die. They were by all accounts ruthless savages who murdered Greek slaves known as "Helots" just for sport, cultivated a culture of thievery and rape, and practiced infanticide, as the movie '300' rightly points out in its opening scenes. Sparta was not even democratic; it was an oligarchy at best. Despite knowing all this, the West continues to hail the Spartans as the saviors of Western democracy.

Yes, the Spartans died fighting a foreign invader, but so do countless Iraqi insurgents, yet few of us would consider them good guys. Those who do are then not much different from Westerners who cheer for the Spartans. Rooting for the Spartans merely because they were underdogs, is like rooting for Osama bin Laden today.

The victors no longer write history, it is written by filmmakers. When will the children of Persia rise up and fight back using the same weapon Hollywood has used for years to denigrate the legacy of their ancestors? When will we abandon our defensive posture and begin to write our own history again?

Perhaps the movie '300' was a necessary wake up call, but Persia bashing will never disappear on its own. It is the main villain in the Western saga. The only way it will change is through the power of film.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It’s the Oil

Iraq is ‘unwinnable’, a ‘quagmire’, a ‘fiasco’: so goes the received opinion. But there is good reason to think that, from the Bush-Cheney perspective, it is none of these things. Indeed, the US may be ‘stuck’ precisely where Bush et al want it to be, which is why there is no ‘exit strategy’.

Iraq has 115 billion barrels of known oil reserves. That is more than five times the total in the United States. And, because of its long isolation, it is the least explored of the world’s oil-rich nations. A mere two thousand wells have been drilled across the entire country; in Texas alone there are a million. It has been estimated, by the Council on Foreign Relations, that Iraq may have a further 220 billion barrels of undiscovered oil; another study puts the figure at 300 billion. If these estimates are anywhere close to the mark, US forces are now sitting on one quarter of the world’s oil resources. The value of Iraqi oil, largely light crude with low production costs, would be of the order of $30 trillion at today’s prices. For purposes of comparison, the projected total cost of the US invasion/occupation is around $1 trillion.

Who will get Iraq’s oil? One of the Bush administration’s ‘benchmarks’ for the Iraqi government is the passage of a law to distribute oil revenues. The draft law that the US has written for the Iraqi congress would cede nearly all the oil to Western companies. The Iraq National Oil Company would retain control of 17 of Iraq’s 80 existing oilfields, leaving the rest – including all yet to be discovered oil – under foreign corporate control for 30 years. ‘The foreign companies would not have to invest their earnings in the Iraqi economy,’ the analyst Antonia Juhasz wrote in the New York Times in March, after the draft law was leaked. ‘They could even ride out Iraq’s current “instability” by signing contracts now, while the Iraqi government is at its weakest, and then wait at least two years before even setting foot in the country.’ As negotiations over the oil law stalled in September, the provincial government in Kurdistan simply signed a separate deal with the Dallas-based Hunt Oil Company, headed by a close political ally of President Bush.

How will the US maintain hegemony over Iraqi oil? By establishing permanent military bases in Iraq. Five self-sufficient ‘super-bases’ are in various stages of completion. All are well away from the urban areas where most casualties have occurred. There has been precious little reporting on these bases in the American press, whose dwindling corps of correspondents in Iraq cannot move around freely because of the dangerous conditions. (It takes a brave reporter to leave the Green Zone without a military escort.) In February last year, the Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks described one such facility, the Balad Air Base, forty miles north of Baghdad. A piece of (well-fortified) American suburbia in the middle of the Iraqi desert, Balad has fast-food joints, a miniature golf course, a football field, a cinema and distinct neighbourhoods – among them, ‘KBR-land’, named after the Halliburton subsidiary that has done most of the construction work at the base. Although few of the 20,000 American troops stationed there have ever had any contact with an Iraqi, the runway at the base is one of the world’s busiest. ‘We are behind only Heathrow right now,’ an air force commander told Ricks.

The Defense Department was initially coy about these bases. In 2003, Donald Rumsfeld said: ‘I have never, that I can recall, heard the subject of a permanent base in Iraq discussed in any meeting.’ But this summer the Bush administration began to talk openly about stationing American troops in Iraq for years, even decades, to come. Several visitors to the White House have told the New York Times that the president himself has become fond of referring to the ‘Korea model’. When the House of Representatives voted to bar funding for ‘permanent bases’ in Iraq, the new term of choice became ‘enduring bases’, as if three or four decades wasn’t effectively an eternity.

But will the US be able to maintain an indefinite military presence in Iraq? It will plausibly claim a rationale to stay there for as long as civil conflict simmers, or until every groupuscule that conveniently brands itself as ‘al-Qaida’ is exterminated. The civil war may gradually lose intensity as Shias, Sunnis and Kurds withdraw into separate enclaves, reducing the surface area for sectarian friction, and as warlords consolidate local authority. De facto partition will be the result. But this partition can never become de jure. (An independent Kurdistan in the north might upset Turkey, an independent Shia region in the east might become a satellite of Iran, and an independent Sunni region in the west might harbour al-Qaida.) Presiding over this Balkanised Iraq will be a weak federal government in Baghdad, propped up and overseen by the Pentagon-scale US embassy that has just been constructed – a green zone within the Green Zone. As for the number of US troops permanently stationed in Iraq, the defence secretary, Robert Gates, told Congress at the end of September that ‘in his head’ he saw the long-term force as consisting of five combat brigades, a quarter of the current number, which, with support personnel, would mean 35,000 troops at the very minimum, probably accompanied by an equal number of mercenary contractors. (He may have been erring on the side of modesty, since the five super-bases can accommodate between ten and twenty thousand troops each.) These forces will occasionally leave their bases to tamp down civil skirmishes, at a declining cost in casualties. As a senior Bush administration official told the New York Times in June, the long-term bases ‘are all places we could fly in and out of without putting Americans on every street corner’. But their main day-to-day function will be to protect the oil infrastructure.

This is the ‘mess’ that Bush-Cheney is going to hand on to the next administration. What if that administration is a Democratic one? Will it dismantle the bases and withdraw US forces entirely? That seems unlikely, considering the many beneficiaries of the continued occupation of Iraq and the exploitation of its oil resources. The three principal Democratic candidates – Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards – have already hedged their bets, refusing to promise that, if elected, they would remove American forces from Iraq before 2013, the end of their first term.

Among the winners: oil-services companies like Halliburton; the oil companies themselves (the profits will be unimaginable, and even Democrats can be bought); US voters, who will be guaranteed price stability at the gas pump (which sometimes seems to be all they care about); Europe and Japan, which will both benefit from Western control of such a large part of the world’s oil reserves, and whose leaders will therefore wink at the permanent occupation; and, oddly enough, Osama bin Laden, who will never again have to worry about US troops profaning the holy places of Mecca and Medina, since the stability of the House of Saud will no longer be paramount among American concerns. Among the losers is Russia, which will no longer be able to lord its own energy resources over Europe. Another big loser is Opec, and especially Saudi Arabia, whose power to keep oil prices high by enforcing production quotas will be seriously compromised.

Then there is the case of Iran, which is more complicated. In the short term, Iran has done quite well out of the Iraq war. Iraq’s ruling Shia coalition is now dominated by a faction friendly to Tehran, and the US has willy-nilly armed and trained the most pro-Iranian elements in the Iraqi military. As for Iran’s nuclear programme, neither air strikes nor negotiations seem likely to derail it at the moment. But the Iranian regime is precarious. Unpopular mullahs hold onto power by financing internal security services and buying off elites with oil money, which accounts for 70 per cent of government revenues. If the price of oil were suddenly to drop to, say, $40 a barrel (from a current price just north of $80), the repressive regime in Tehran would lose its steady income. And that is an outcome the US could easily achieve by opening the Iraqi oil spigot for as long as necessary (perhaps taking down Venezuela’s oil-cocky Hugo Chávez into the bargain).

And think of the United States vis-à-vis China. As a consequence of our trade deficit, around a trillion dollars’ worth of US denominated debt (including $400 billion in US Treasury bonds) is held by China. This gives Beijing enormous leverage over Washington: by offloading big chunks of US debt, China could bring the American economy to its knees. China’s own economy is, according to official figures, expanding at something like 10 per cent a year. Even if the actual figure is closer to 4 or 5 per cent, as some believe, China’s increasing heft poses a threat to US interests. (One fact: China is acquiring new submarines five times faster than the US.) And the main constraint on China’s growth is its access to energy – which, with the US in control of the biggest share of world oil, would largely be at Washington’s sufferance. Thus is the Chinese threat neutralised.

Many people are still perplexed by exactly what moved Bush-Cheney to invade and occupy Iraq. In the 27 September issue of the New York Review of Books, Thomas Powers, one of the most astute watchers of the intelligence world, admitted to a degree of bafflement. ‘What’s particularly odd,’ he wrote, ‘is that there seems to be no sophisticated, professional, insiders’ version of the thinking that drove events.’ Alan Greenspan, in his just published memoir, is clearer on the matter. ‘I am saddened,’ he writes, ‘that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.’

Was the strategy of invading Iraq to take control of its oil resources actually hammered out by Cheney’s 2001 energy task force? One can’t know for sure, since the deliberations of that task force, made up largely of oil and energy company executives, have been kept secret by the administration on the grounds of ‘executive privilege’. One can’t say for certain that oil supplied the prime motive. But the hypothesis is quite powerful when it comes to explaining what has actually happened in Iraq. The occupation may seem horribly botched on the face of it, but the Bush administration’s cavalier attitude towards ‘nation-building’ has all but ensured that Iraq will end up as an American protectorate for the next few decades – a necessary condition for the extraction of its oil wealth. If the US had managed to create a strong, democratic government in an Iraq effectively secured by its own army and police force, and had then departed, what would have stopped that government from taking control of its own oil, like every other regime in the Middle East? On the assumption that the Bush-Cheney strategy is oil-centred, the tactics – dissolving the army, de-Baathification, a final ‘surge’ that has hastened internal migration – could scarcely have been more effective. The costs – a few billion dollars a month plus a few dozen American fatalities (a figure which will probably diminish, and which is in any case comparable to the number of US motorcyclists killed because of repealed helmet laws) – are negligible compared to $30 trillion in oil wealth, assured American geopolitical supremacy and cheap gas for voters. In terms of realpolitik, the invasion of Iraq is not a fiasco; it is a resounding success.

Still, there is reason to be sceptical of the picture I have drawn: it implies that a secret and highly ambitious plan turned out just the way its devisers foresaw, and that almost never happens.

Jim Holt writes for the New York Times Magazine and the New Yorker.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n20/holt01_.html