Tomgram: Chalmers Johnson, The Ultimate Election

October 7, 2008

Here we are, with ringside seats — far too close for comfort — at the Great Global Crash of ’08. Nobody’s quite calling it that yet, but what else could it be? All over the world yesterday stocks plummeted; the Russian and Brazilian stock indexes went down so precipitously — 19% and 13% — that exchanges in both countries were closed for parts of the day; the Indonesian index tumbled an unprecedented 10%; the Paris bourse, 9%; the London FTSE 100, a historic 8%; and the main German index 7%; while, at the New York Stock Exchange, the Dow Jones dipped under 10,000 on its wild ride toward the depths.

In moments like this, if you’re an American, you look for ironies. And here’s one appropriate to Chalmers Johnson’s dispatch below. In the last year, the Bush administration’s top officials have sunk much of their increasingly lame-duck energy into pacifying Iraq, and so getting it out of the news and the spotlight at least long enough for election ’08 to happen (and undoubtedly long enough as well for them to get out of town in January). And then what happens? The administration is ambushed, not by Sunni militants or Shiite radicals but by its own people: investment bankers, lenders, hedge-fund managers, financial management types — the very people for whom they organized the world and who had long been playing fast and loose (and profitably) with our economic system. The ambush, of course, took the form of a financial meltdown of massive proportions for which, as in Iraq in 2003, the administration had clearly done no significant preplanning or war-gaming. And, as with the insurgency then, so now they operated by the increasingly worn seats of their pants. Their attempted $700 billion “surge,” as stock exchanges around the world indicated yesterday, wasn’t likely to pacify a global financial system near cardiac arrest.

And I’m getting to that irony, if you’ll just hang on. But first recall the administration’s dreams only five years ago. Then, they were convinced that they would create a Pax Americana globally and a Pax Republicana domestically that would last generations. Now, “Bush’s brain” Karl Rove is talking about an Obama November victory, while what Iraq started, the economic meltdown looks to be ending.

Here’s a sure thing: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney won’t make it out of town in time, their wars will remain disasters, their imperial dreams so much smoke, and domestically, they may have created the conditions for a turning-point election that could bring to Washington not only a resurgent Democratic Party, but the first black president of the United States. Quite a record for one “commander-in-chief” presidency. Chalmers Johnson, whose latest book, Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, warned of the possibility of a profligate, militarized U.S. going bankrupt, considers whether, in the ruins of Bush’s financial Katrina, an Obama victory and a reconfiguring election are possible, or whether deep-seated racism and embedded regional party loyalties will prove too much even for this catastrophic moment. Tom

Voting the Fate of the Nation

Will Economic Meltdown, Race, or Regional Loyalty Be the Trump Card in Election 2008?

By Chalmers Johnson

In his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama called the forthcoming presidential election a “defining moment” in this country’s history. It is conceivable that he is right. There are precedents in American history for an election inaugurating a period of reform and political realignment.

Such a development, however, is extremely rare and surrounded by contingencies normally beyond the control of the advocates of reform. So let me speculate about whether the 2008 election might set in motion a political reconfiguration — and even a political renaissance — in the United States, restoring a modicum of democracy to the country’s political system, while ending our march toward imperialism, perpetual warfare, and bankruptcy that began with the Cold War.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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ICH: Ron Paul: The Creation of the Second Great Depression

September 26, 2008
The Creation of the Second Great Depression
By Ron Paul
Whenever a Great Bipartisan Consensus is announced, and a compliant media assures everyone that the wondrous actions of our wise leaders are being taken for our own good, you can know with absolute certainty that disaster is about to strike. The events of the past week are no exception.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20862.htm
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Show Us the Money
By William Greider
Taxpayers should wake up the politicians and ask them to tell Wall Street: “We want the same deal Warren Buffett got.”
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20867.htm
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Richest Americans See Their Income Share Grow
By Jesse Drucker
In a new sign of increasing inequality in the U.S., the richest 1% of Americans in 2006 garnered the highest share of the nation’s adjusted gross income for two decades, and possibly the highest since 1929, according to Internal Revenue Service data.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20863.htm
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America’s Elephant In The Room
By David Michael Green
The scope of the destruction is breathtaking to gaze upon. The rapidity with which American affluence and power and respect and responsibility were converted into their opposite numbers is mind-boggling.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20868.htm
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McCain’s Debate Ploy
By Michael Tomasky
A move so unserious, contemptible and cynical that it’s hard to imagine how they even thought of it.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20866.htm
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The New World War
The Silence Is A Lie
By John Pilger
It is a war of the world. In Latin America, the Bush administration is fomenting incipient military coups in Venezuela, Bolivia, and possibly Paraguay, democracies whose governments have opposed Washington’s historic rapacious intervention in its “backyard”. Washington’s “Plan Colombia” is the model for a mostly unreported assault on Mexico.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20864.htm
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Morales Cites “Evidence” of U.S. Meddling
By Haider Rizvi
Bolivian President Evo Morales reiterated the charge Tuesday that the U.S. government was plotting to overthrow his government and that Washington had a hand in the recent episodes of violence in which a number of his supporters were killed and wounded by opposition gangs.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20860.htm
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The Destabilization of Bolivia and the “Kosovo Option”
By Michel Chossudovsky
The death squads armed with automatic weapons responsible for killing supporters of Evo Morales in El Porvenir are supported covertly by the US. According to one report, “USAID has an “Office of Transition Initiatives” operating in Bolivia, funneling millions of dollars of training and support to right-wing opposition regional governments and movements.”
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20861.htm
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The Future Is One Nation
The two-state approach in the Middle East has failed. There is a fairer, more durable solution
By Ghada Karmi
Imagine the scene: the United Nations general assembly meets to discuss a resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Unlike previous resolutions, which have been based on a Jewish state in most of historic Palestine with Palestinians relegated to the remnants, this one calls for a new state, covering what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, whose present and former inhabitants are equal under the law. Such a resolution has, in fact, already been drafted and discussions have begun to place it on the agenda at the UN.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20865.htm
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Horrors of War Our Leaders Never Have to Confront
By Robert Fisk
Private James Owen was to describe how an enraged friend was trying to bayonet another German. “He lunged at the German again and again, who each time lowered his arms and stopped the point of the bayonet with his bare hands. He was screaming for mercy. Oh God it was brutal!”
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20856.htm
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The Blood of Dresden
By Kurt Vonnegut
The author Kurt Vonnegut was a prisoner of war in Dresden during the allied bombing raids and was later forced to dig out bodies from the ruined city. In papers discovered by his son after his death last year, he provides a searing eyewitness account of the ‘obscene brutality’ that inspired his novel Slaughterhouse-Five.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20857.htm
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Larisa Alexandrovna: Welcome to the final stages of the coup…

September 23, 2008

This latest bailout is the ultimate power grab with Congress giving up its power over finances into the hands of crooks. It is terrible and suicidal for a country that once was a ‘beacon of freedom and democracy’ to the rest of the world.

“If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it.” ~ Julius Caesar

Read Larisa Alexandrovna’s chilling piece in the Huffington Post here.

No time needs to be wasted on hearings as we already now have in writing, formally as presented to Congress, the intentions of this administration to nullify Congressional powers permanently, to alter Judicial powers permanently, and to openly steal public funds using as blackmail the total collapse of the US economy if these powers are not handed over. You do see how this is blackmail, do you not? You do see how this is a manufactured crisis precisely designed to be used as blackmail, do you not?

[…]


KSP: Harper’s Agenda / Unwarranted Media Bias Against Dion

September 20, 2008

The opinion piece below was written by my good friend, KSP. It is posted here with permission:

It seems I was right and Harper pulled an election to avoid this. It happened a little faster than he expected though and he can’t turn back. That military takeover is a distinct possibility; that may explain PMSH’s confidence and the fact his people are not campaigning; he doesn’t worry about local ridings chances at all. I still say he is sure the US will take us over, when their civil unrest hits the streets. Bush will keep him in power as his personal puppet. Remember Harper allowed the armed forces to sign a deal in February that he will supply soldiers to th US if they rebel and the US will do the same for him. As things stand in the marketpalce, all this could happen before the election in November. Why else would they appoint that bimbo Palin, to distract the public? McCain will not be reelected, Bush will not leave office. He can declare himself Commander in chief in times of trouble, declare Martial Law and that’s it. Of course, the following bloodbath will be horrid to behold, when all the poor hungry people go on a rampage with their guns ablaze. The 800 FEMA concentration camps will come in mighty handy. (Google FEMA concentration camps). I am hoping they will be too busy with their problems to bother with Canada for the time being. (They also have another possible scenario, start another war. Either Pakistan or Iran will do.)

The only chance we have to get out ot this is to elect Dion. He may be able to ward off a collapse here by nationalizing the financial system and put the Bank of Canada in charge. Their mandate is or precisely was, to keep Canada safe and prosperous. The act says the bank can lend money from future projected revenue and lend to the banks and businesses at minimal rates. Which means the interest goes back to the government and foreign bankers cannot charge high interest rates set by their private owners like the FED and take money out of the country and bleed it dry. He is not a corporate hack, he is a professor and he has a vision. If he becomes PM, his own party people will have to follow his lead, much like they did Trudeau. He will have the power to implement his vision which will be to make Canada as good a country as Sweden. I actually think he can do it. Of course, a major civil war in the US will help greatly, 10% of Americans know this is coming and are armed to the teeth because of it. Most of them have been hoarding food, ammunition and gold for such an emergency. (Ten percent is 30 million very angry patriotic citizens.) This will be the first time a government tries to take over a nation with more ammo than the military. I can’t say I can predict which side would win. However, a 1798 type revolution where the upper class was guillotined might happen here with the Senate, Congress and the Banking members enjoying similarly effective poetic justice.

Since a currency crash might affect our banking system it may be advisable to keep some cash at home for emergencies. Food for a few months might help too. This is too big to predict and anything could happen. I am hoping that since a great many governments know about this impending disaster, they might have devised a system to act when a crash occurs. Because th US dollar is the reserve currency of the world everyone will be equally affected. China is threatening to pull away from US dollars and nobody is buying US Treasuries anymore. They are very close to a meltdown. The minute the dollar stops being the reserve currency the dollar will crash. The consequences are too long to explain; suffice it to say it will be disastrous for the US and to all the poorer countries without vast resources like Canada. We must put all effort in this election to get Dion into power; he alone has the vision and brainpower to find a solution to this unmitigated mess. If not, heaven help us all.


About me:

I am not paranoid or a lunatic, but everything seems to point in this direction. Hope I am wrong. I base these thoughts on my extensive reading and my vast knowledge of history. Also having been born under a Nazi regime and witnessing the takeover of the Communists in 1948; I think my judgment is fairly reasonable. I knew about the coming meltdown over 2 years ago. KSP


See related articles:

PENTAGON SHIPS TROOPS TO THE U.S. TO PREPARE FOR CIVIL UNREST

Unwarranted Media Bias Against Dion:

In the past few weeks the press has been overly negative, as if promoting a very well educated, good man to run this country would be bad for us. I would like to mention that the spin on his image as a weak leader is utter rubbish. In Canada the word Prime Minister means just that, first minister of the many elected able members. It does not mean a dictator, it means first among equals. In an educated society, especially where the baby boomers outnumber the young, why would we need a younger dogmatic ideologue to decide things for us? Are the people that built this country since the Second World War incapable of making decisions about what is good for ourselves? Do we really think we have a president in the making? … [Read more here]

Progressives for Stephane Dion: Alerts Page

Progressives for Stephane Dion: Home Page


Tomgram: Steve Fraser, The End of a Gilded Age

September 18, 2008

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Nothing like asking for contributions on the eve of a potential economic meltdown, as I did the other day… so I was stunned that a number of you actually reached for the new “Resist Empire. Support TomDispatch” button to the right of the main screen and offered a hand. I can’t begin to tell those of you who did how appreciative I am, and how appreciative future TD writers, who may want to go somewhere to investigate something, are likely to be. (I’ll write you in person as soon as I dig out from under.)

In the meantime, here’s something TD readers can do to support this site’s well-being, should the urge to be helpful strike you. In addition to everyone who bookmarks TomDispatch, more than 20,000 of you now get emails letting you know whenever a new piece has been posted. Those emails, as you may have noticed, have just been snazzily redesigned to offer many windows into the site. It’s a perfect moment for new readers to sign on. Most of them do so thanks to word of mouth, a formidable force in the on-line world. For those of you already hooked on TD, I want to urge you to lend the site a little more of that word-of-mouth power. I hope you’ll consider putting together a modest list of friends, colleagues, relatives who might benefit from getting TomDispatch regularly, urge them to go to the “sign up” window at the upper right of the main screen, put in their e-mail addresses, answer the confirmation letter that will quickly arrive in their email in-boxes (or, fair warning, their spam folders), and join the TD crew. Where else, for instance, could you have read, last January, a piece by Chalmers Johnson, “Going Bankrupt,” on the weak underbelly of the American financial system only now beginning to unravel?]

Among the many media spectacles of the moment, the most unnerving is undoubtedly the crisis on Wall Street that has already essentially toppled Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Merrill Lynch, and — probably not last and certainly not least — the gigantic insurance company AIG, which has just been given $85 billion in taxpayer moneys to liquidate itself. Before we’re done, that hoary old oxymoron of the Left, “late capitalism,” may gain new life.

Elsewhere on the planet, it turns out, it was more obvious that the U.S. was in crisis. One small sign of the changing state of the globe’s “sole superpower” is that, even before banking institutions started to tumble off walls like so many Humpty Dumpties, the International Monetary Fund, that dominatrix of global capital, was planning to pay Washington a working visit. This is the sort of thing you expect, with great trepidation, if you’re Haiti, or Pakistan, or Malawi, or Argentina on the brink of financial meltdown — but the United States? Nonetheless, according to NPR’s David Kestenbaum, “The U.S. Treasury says America has now agreed to get a stability assessment from the IMF. The announcement didn’t get much attention, but officials at the IMF expect to start examining U.S. finances in the next couple [of] months.”

Welcome to the Third World, America. Now, hold your hats while the whirlwind blows and the stock market goes into heart-attack mode. Steve Fraser, an expert on Gilded Ages (and how they end), as well as the author of a superb new book on our financial “masters of the universe” from the eighteenth century to the present, Wall Street: America’s Dream Palace, brought up the dreaded “D” word (for depression) this April at TomDispatch when, in the mainstream, pundits were still wondering whether we might possibly, actually, really be edging toward, or near, a recession. He wrote at the time: “The current breakdown of the financial system is portentous. It threatens a general economic implosion more serious than anyone has witnessed for many decades. Depression, if that is what it turns out to be, together with the agonies of a misbegotten and lost war no one believes in any longer, could undermine whatever is left of the threadbare credibility of our Gilded Age elite.” Now he’s being quoted on the front page of the New York Times. How times (of every sort) have changed in just the space of a few months… Drawing on his knowledge of the history of Wall Street and Washington, now let him offer you now a little perspective for the months to come. Tom

Wall Street and Washington

How the Rules of the Game Have Changed

By Steve Fraser

What is Washington to do as the financial system collapses? Clearly, stark differences in approach as well as in public policy have already emerged. Bail-out Bear Stearns and pump up the brokerage and investment business with new lines of credit. Nationalize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the backs of the taxpayer — but let Lehman drown. Tell the financial community to save itself, after which Bank of America salutes and buys Merrill Lynch. Then, the Fed gets cold feet and decides it can’t let an institution the size of the insurance giant AIG go under as well. Washington is left staring into the abyss. The old rules no longer apply.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.


Tariq Ali: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power (VIDEO)

September 17, 2008

Watch this two-part Tom Dispatch VIDEO by Pakistani-born journalist and writer Tariq Ali and you will better understand the US-Pakistani relationship and its consequences in Afghanistan:

Part 1: The Tangled U.S.-Pakistani relationship on the edge of war
Part 2: Barack Obama’s disastrous plans for Afghanistan and Pakistan


Tomgram: Tariq Ali, Has the U.S. Invasion of Pakistan Begun?

September 17, 2008

As Andrew Bacevich tells us in the latest issue of the Atlantic, there’s now a vigorous debate going on in the military about the nature of the “next” American wars and how to prepare for them. However, while military officers argue, that “next war” may already be creeping up on us.

Having, with much hoopla, launched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, each disastrous in its own way, the Bush administration in its waning months seems intent on a slo-mo launching of a third war in the border regions of Pakistan. Almost every day now news trickles out of intensified American strikes — by Hellfire-missile armed Predator drones, or even commando raids from helicopters — in the Pakistani tribal areas along the Afghan border; and there is a drumbeat of threats of more to come. All of this, in turn, is reportedly only “phase one” of a three-phase Bush administration plan in which the American military “gloves” would “come off.” Think of this as the green-lighting of a new version of that old Vietnam-era tactic of “hot pursuit” across national borders, or think of it simply as the latest war.

The Duel

The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power

By Tariq Ali

Already Pakistan’s sovereignty has functionally been declared of no significance by our President, and so, without a word from Congress, the American war that already stretches from Iraq to Afghanistan is threatening to widen in ways that are potentially incendiary in the extreme. While Pakistani sources report that no significant Taliban or al-Qaeda figures have been killed in the recent series of attacks, anger in Pakistan over the abrogation of national sovereignty and, as in Afghanistan, over civilian casualties is growing.

In Iraq, 146,000 American soldiers seem not to be going anywhere anytime soon, while in Afghanistan another 33,000 embattled American troops (and tens of thousands of NATO troops), suffering their highest casualties since the Taliban fell in 2001, are fighting a spreading insurgency backed by growing anger over foreign occupation. The disintegration seems to be proceeding apace in that country as the Taliban begins to throttle the supply routes leading into the Afghan capital of Kabul, while the governor of a province just died in an IED blast. “President” Hamid Karzai was long ago nicknamed “the mayor of Kabul.” Today, that tag seems ever more appropriate as the influence of his corrupt government steadily weakens.

In the meantime, in Pakistan, a new war, no less unpredictable and unpalatable than the last two, develops, as American strikes fan the flames of Pakistani nationalism. Already the Pakistani military may have fired its first warning shots at American troops. Part of the horror here is that much of the present nightmare in Afghanistan and Pakistan can be traced to the sorry U.S. relationship with Pakistan’s military and its intelligence services back in the early 1980s. At that time, in its anti-Soviet jihad, the Reagan administration was, in conjunction with the Pakistanis, actively nurturing the forces that the Bush administration is now so intent on fighting. No one knows this story, this record, better than the Pakistani-born journalist and writer Tariq Ali.

As we head into our “next war,” most Americans know almost nothing about Pakistan, the sixth most populous country on the planet with 200 million people, and the only Islamic state with nuclear weapons. As the Bush administration commits to playing with fire in that desperately poor land, it’s time to learn. Ali, who posts below on the next U.S. war, has just written a new book, The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power — published today — that traces the U.S.-Pakistani relationship from the 1950s to late last night. I can tell you that it’s both riveting and needed. Check it out. And while you’re at it, check Ali out in a two-part video, released by TomDispatch, in which he discusses the history of the tangled U.S.-Pakistani relationship and Barack Obama’s Afghan and Pakistani plans. Tom

The American War Moves to Pakistan

Bush’s War Widens Dangerously

By Tariq Ali

The decision to make public a presidential order of last July authorizing American strikes inside Pakistan without seeking the approval of the Pakistani government ends a long debate within, and on the periphery of, the Bush administration. Senator Barack Obama, aware of this ongoing debate during his own long battle with Hillary Clinton, tried to outflank her by supporting a policy of U.S. strikes into Pakistan. Senator John McCain and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin have now echoed this view and so it has become, by consensus, official U.S. policy.

Click here to read more of this dispatch