Sunday, August 30, 2009

Historical facts about the dangers (and failures) of vaccines

Historical facts about the dangers (and failures) of vaccines

by Mike Adams

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Vaccines are the quackery of modern medicine. Mass vaccination programs not only fail to protect the population from infectious disease, they actually accelerate the spread of disease in many cases.

Many website have cropped up over the last few years to counter the pro-vaccine propaganda put out by drug companies (who profit from vaccines) and health regulators (who serve the drug companies). One of those sites is www.VaccinationDebate.com , which lists the following historical facts about vaccines:

• In the USA in 1960, two virologists discovered that both polio vaccines were contaminated with the SV 40 virus which causes cancer in animals as well as changes in human cell tissue cultures. Millions of children had been injected with these vaccines. (Med Jnl of Australia 17/3/1973 p555)

• In 1871-2, England, with 98% of the population aged between 2 and 50 vaccinated against smallpox, it experienced its worst ever smallpox outbreak with 45,000 deaths. During the same period in Germany, with a vaccination rate of 96%, there were over 125,000 deaths from smallpox. (http://www.soilandhealth.org/02/020...)
The Hadwen Documents

• In Germany, compulsory mass vaccination against diphtheria commenced in 1940 and by 1945 diphtheria cases were up from 40,000 to 250,000. (Don't Get Stuck, Hannah Allen)

• In 1967, Ghana was declared measles free by the World Health Organisation after 96% of its population was vaccinated. In 1972, Ghana experienced one of its worst measles outbreaks with its highest ever mortality rate. (Dr H Albonico, MMR Vaccine Campaign in Switzerland, March 1990)

• In 1977, Dr Jonas Salk who developed the first polio vaccine, testified along with other scientists, that mass inoculation against polio was the cause of most polio cases throughout the USA since 1961. (Science 4/4/77 "Abstracts" )

• In the UK between 1970 and 1990, over 200,000 cases of whooping cough occurred in fully vaccinated children. (Community Disease Surveillance Centre, UK)

• In the 1970's a tuberculosis vaccine trial in India involving 260,000 people revealed that more cases of TB occurred in the vaccinated than the unvaccinated. (The Lancet 12/1/80 p73)

• In 1978, a survey of 30 States in the US revealed that more than half of the children who contracted measles had been adequately vaccinated. (The People's Doctor, Dr R Mendelsohn)

• The February 1981 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 90% of obstetricians and 66% of pediatricians refused to take the rubella vaccine.

• In 1979, Sweden abandoned the whooping cough vaccine due to its ineffectiveness. Out of 5,140 cases in 1978, it was found that 84% had been vaccinated three times! (BMJ 283:696-697, 1981)

• In the USA, the cost of a single DPT shot had risen from 11 cents in 1982 to $11.40 in 1987. The manufacturers of the vaccine were putting aside $8 per shot to cover legal costs and damages they were paying out to parents of brain damaged children and children who died after vaccination. (The Vine, Issue 7, January 1994, Nambour, Qld)

• In Oman between 1988 and 1989, a polio outbreak occurred amongst thousands of fully vaccinated children. The region with the highest attack rate had the highest vaccine coverage. The region with the lowest attack rate had the lowest vaccine coverage. (The Lancet, 21/9/91)

• In 1990, a UK survey involving 598 doctors revealed that over 50% of them refused to have the Hepatitis B vaccine despite belonging to the high risk group urged to be vaccinated. (British Med Jnl, 27/1/1990)

• In the USA, from July 1990 to November 1993, the US Food and Drug Administration counted a total of 54,072 adverse reactions following vaccination. The FDA admitted that this number represented only 10% of the real total, because most doctors were refusing to report vaccine injuries. In other words, adverse reactions for this period exceeded half a million! (National Vaccine Information Centre, March 2, 1994)

• In 1990, the Journal of the American Medical Association had an article on measles which stated " Although more than 95% of school-aged children in the US are vaccinated against measles, large measles outbreaks continue to occur in schools and most cases in this setting occur among previously vaccinated children." (JAMA, 21/11/90)

• In the New England Journal of Medicine July 1994 issue a study found that over 80% of children under 5 years of age who had contracted whooping cough had been fully vaccinated.

• On November 2nd, 2000, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) announced that its members voted at their 57th annual meeting in St Louis to pass a resolution calling for an end to mandatory childhood vaccines. The resolution passed without a single "no" vote. http://www.wellnesschiro.com/physic...
(Report by Michael Devitt)

WPost Helps CIA Defend Torture

WPost Helps CIA Defend Torture

It seems coverage of the Bush administration’s “war on terror” has been put back on track by the editors of the Washington Post and their “sources” who are determined to highlight the supposed successes of waterboarding and other forms of torture.

Frankly, I was wondering when this return to form would happen at the Post. I was surprised to see Post journalists recently lose their grip, so to speak, and fall into the practice of reporting real facts — like the sickening revelations in the long-suppressed CIA Inspector General’s report on torture.

Apparently they have now been reminded of the biases of the newspaper’s top brass, forever justifying the hardnosed “realism” of the Bush administration as it approved brutal and perverse methods for stripping the “bad guys” of their clothes, their dignity, their sense of self – all to protect America.

Hooded, threatened with a cocked gun and an electric drill, deprived of sleep for long periods, beaten, kept naked or dressed in diapers, forced into painful stress positions, locked in tiny boxes and subjected to the near-drowning of waterboarding, the terrorism suspects were supposed to be terrorized into what the CIA psychologists called “learned helplessness.”

And to read the Washington Post’s account, it all worked, transforming alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed from a “truculent enemy” into what the CIA considered its “preeminent source” on al-Qaeda.

The Post made the story of this transformation – “How a Detainee Became an Asset: Sept.11 Plotter Cooperated After Waterboarding” – its Aug. 29 lead story on Page One.

To drive home the central point, the Post declared that “this reversal occurred after Mohammed was subjected to simulated drowning and prolonged sleep deprivation, among other harsh interrogation techniques.”

But the story contained some weird contradictions that might have given pause to a less credulous – or less biased – newspaper. For example, the Post’s two unnamed sources who told the tale of Mohammed’s transformation depicted him as anything but a broken man suffering from “learned helplessness,” terrified of more torture.

Instead, Mohammed, known as KSM, is described as holding forth like a professor in a lecture hall, pontificating about Greek philosophy and criticizing his American students for their shortcomings. “In one instance, he scolded a listener for poor note-taking and his inability to recall details of an earlier lecture,” the Post wrote.

So, instead of a cowering figure induced to talk out of fear that he might be subjected to a 184th session of waterboarding, Mohammed appears to be a boastful narcissist who views himself as a historic figure – exactly the sort of interrogation subject who would be susceptible to flattery and other successful, non-violent strategies favored by experienced FBI interrogators.

If the “learned helplessness” had worked – and was the reason Mohammed was talking – would he really have risked scolding an American interrogator, like an angry teacher chastising an inattentive schoolboy?

However, that is not a question the Post asks or its editors apparently want the readers to think much about. The story is written as if the Post writers Peter Finn, Joby Warrick and Julie Tate are seeking expiation for their sins of writing fact-and-document-based stories in recent days.

Back to the Steno Pool

The Post management, it seems, is determined to return to its past practice of acting as stenographers for the CIA’s PR machine.

On Sunday, the Post had its steno pad out again, taking dictation about how torture investigations were harming CIA morale.

The story, entitled “Ex-Intelligence Officials Cite Low Spirits at CIA: IG Report’s Release, Looming Investigation Into Detainee Interrogations Blamed” by Walter Pincus and Joby Warrick, filled nearly half of Page Two.

The CIA is the only agency of the U.S. government that elicits the Post's hand-wringing concern about its morale and “spirits.” It’s as if CIA officers were fragile Southern belles at risk of being overcome by “the vapors” if a harsh word is uttered in the parlor.

It’s hard to recall any similar concern expressed by the Post over poor morale at other government offices, say, the Environmental Protection Agency when President George W. Bush was ignoring evidence of global warming or the Justice Department when Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was firing prosecutors for not going after Democrats.

But the delicate “spirits” of the CIA work force are something that the Post never ceases to worry about. So Pincus and Warrick ran to some “ex-CIA officials” to gauge the morale damage that the torture disclosures had caused.

It turns out that many of these “ex-CIA officials,” cited in the Post article, are folks with the most to lose if Attorney General Eric Holder starts unraveling the sordid tale of torture, assassination, kidnapping, you name it over which they had purview and in which they were involved.

The Post article was accompanied by a photo of A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard, who laments that “morale at the agency is down to minus 50.”

To their credit, I suppose, Pincus and Warrick do note that Krongard was the “third-ranking CIA official at the time of the use of harsh practices,” but there is no specific statement that Krongard and other worriers about CIA morale just might have some huge self-interest in discouraging investigations.

Post readers are not alerted, for instance, to Krongard’s history as the official who gave Blackwater, the ex-CIA-official-dominated firm sometimes called Assassination Inc., its initial contract, nor that he joined Blackwater’s Board of Directors after retiring from the CIA. Nor that with the help of his brother, the State Department’s Inspector General, he helped block congressional inquiries into alleged Blackwater illegalities.

Instead, the Post treats Krongard as a reliable source and the Obama administration’s release of torture-related documents as a policy blunder.

“One former senior official said President Obama was warned in December that release of the Justice Department memos sanctioning harsh interrogation methods would create an uproar that could not be contained,” the Post reported, quoting the official as saying:

“They [the White House] thought that it would be a two-day story; they were wrong.”

“Warning” the President of the United States! Who’s running this country, anyway?

Loving the Inquisition

In its Saturday front-page story, the Post was even more obvious about which side it was taking on the issue of torture and the efficacy of using brutal methods to extract information.

Warming the cockles of Dick Cheney’s heart, the Washington Post was “confirming” that waterboarding and sleep deprivation worked — just as we were told by Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, on May 13 at a hearing on detainee interrogation that included an implicit tip of the hat to all manner of infamous torture past:

“The Vice President [Cheney] is suggesting that there was good information obtained, and I’d like the committee to get that information. Let’s have both sides of the story here. I mean, one of the reasons these techniques have survived for about 500 years is apparently they work.”

Five hundred years takes us proudly back to the Spanish Inquisition when the cardinals at least had no problem calling a spade a spade. Their term for waterboarding was tortura del agua. No euphemism like “enhanced interrogation technique” or EIT for short.

As for Cheney's earlier claim that two CIA documents would prove that the EITs were effective — the two were released this week, and they prove nothing of the kind. Together with others, they do indicate that detainees like KSM provided important intelligence on al-Qaeda and its plans. But they fail to support the contention that it was the use of harsh techniques (as opposed to traditional interrogation methods) that yielded the information.

The Washington Independent's Spencer Ackerman, who has been covering all this like a blanket, notes that the two documents actually suggest that non-abusive interrogation techniques were primarily responsible for eliciting the most important information cited in the two documents.

In short, Cheney is no closer to proving that "torture works," than he was before the release of those two documents to which he gave so much fanfare. Indeed, given how the two fizzled out, he is now farther away from making that case, except in the eyes of senior editors at the Washington Post and other outlets of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM).

Water and Sleep

For years now, the FCM has largely succeeded in trivializing “water torture.” So who’s afraid of a little water? Don’t those Muslims know how to hold their breath, like we do at Rehoboth? And besides, we waterboarded our own troops in training, without adverse effect.

Are Americans so dumbed down that they cannot see the difference between a U.S. military training exercise, during which a simple gesture will stop the torture, and the real thing?

And how well did torture work on KSM? If one examines the record more carefully, it turns out that the alleged 9/11 mastermind was uncooperative and deceptive during the torture.

When U.S. authorities finally let KSM be interviewed by the Red Cross, he said this (which was shoehorned onto page 6 of the Post, presumably to provide the article some semblance of “balance”):

“During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop. I later told interrogators that their methods were stupid and counterproductive.

“I’m sure that the false information I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot of their time.”

Ask FBI investigators and others sent on wild goose chases to check out such “information”; in candid moments they will corroborate what KSM has to say on that key point.

Getting What You Want

It truly boggles the mind what information one can extract by torture. A U.S. Army interrogator with long experience in conducting interrogations, and in training others in traditional Army techniques, recently told me this:

“Give me no restrictions on enhanced techniques and I promise you I could get a detainee to confess to having launched, solo, not one but two successful suicide bombings!”

The FCM’s dismissive attitude toward waterboarding goes in spades for sleep deprivation. One hears things like: “We’ve all gone without sleep — preparing for exams, for example. We know what it’s like, and it’s no big deal. And, anyway, these are bad guys.”

Not so fast. It’s difficult to say that sleep deprivation is worse than waterboarding, but it is just as torturous. Much can be learned from Darius Rejali, a scholar who is one of the world’s leading thinkers and writers on torture and its consequences. The paragraphs that follow are drawn largely from his book, Torture and Democracy.

Israeli terrorist and later prime minister, Menachem Begin, describing the sleep deprivation inflicted on him when he was a prisoner of the KGB as a young man, observed that anyone subjected to this condition knows that “not even hunger or thirst are comparable to it.”

Experts now agree that sleep deprivation is a basic, and potentially dangerous, physiological-need state, similar to hunger or thirst and as basic to survival. Sleep-deprived people are highly suggestible (a condition not unlike drunkenness or hypnosis), making sleep deprivation ideal for inducing false confessions.

Rejali gives a 15th-century Italian lawyer “credit” for introducing this technique into the Inquisition’s toolkit. But Inquisitional interrogators soon became aware of the unreliable character of information acquired through sleep deprivation, and the preferred technique became the rack.

The Gestapo used sleep deprivation among other “Verschäfte Vernehmungen” — sharpened interrogation techniques. Against whom? You guessed it; against “Terroristen.”

Sleep deprivation also was in the quiver of British interrogators in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and is still included in current Israeli procedures. And after 9/11, the CIA and the military were authorized to take the technique out of mothballs and apply it in interrogations — with terrific results, if you believe Page One of the Washington Post.

For additional context, it may be worth citing what Rejali says about the experience of using sleep deprivation in the U.S.:

“American courts finally barred sleep deprivation for domestic policing during World War II. In 1941 Tennessee police subjected one suspect to sleep deprivation and interrogation for thirty-six hours until he confessed he had killed his wife….

“In 1944, the Supreme Court not only tossed out the confession as unacceptable in any democratic society,” but drew a link between sleep deprivation and “the practices of certain foreign nations dedicated to…physical or mental torture.”

Political Correctness

Khalid Sheik Mohammed was captured as the writers of the 9/11 Commission were preparing their report. Ask him why he did it, was their understandable request. The answer was quite telling.

Mohammed had attended North Carolina A&T in Greensboro; thus, initial speculation regarding his motive centered on the supposition that he had suffered some gross indignity accounting for his hatred for America. Not so. Rather, as the 9/11 Commission reported on page 147:

“By his own account, KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”

Today’s Washington Post article offers a revisionist view. It seems Mohammed’s initial response was found to be politically incorrect by implicating “U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”

Perhaps after a few more sessions of waterboarding or a few more days of sleep deprivation he came up with a more acceptable explanation of his motivation. Or perhaps the Post has been selective in picking and choosing among the various things that came out of reports that emerged from his interrogation.

In any event, without so much as a word as to why his story has changed, the Post now would have us believe that the following is the real reason:

“KSM’s limited and negative experience in the United States — which included a brief jail stay because of unpaid bills — almost certainly helped propel him on his path to becoming a terrorist,” according to the [CIA] intelligence summary. “He stated that his contact with Americans, while minimal, confirmed his view that the United States was a debauched and racist country.”

A telling revision, indeed.

But let’s also look for a moment at “debauched and racist” on its own merits. Could the hated Khalid Sheik Mohammed be speaking some truth here?

If he and other Middle Eastern Muslims looked and acted more like us, would it be so easy to demonize them – and to torture them?

Would the Washington Post’s editors be so supportive if representatives of a more favored ethnic or religious group were stripped naked before members of the opposite sex, put in diapers, immobilized with shackles in stress positions for long periods, denied sleep and made to soil themselves?

In my view, racism is very much at play here.

And “debauched?” Just read the CIA Inspector General report and decide for yourself.

And please: don’t stop with a “Tsk, tsk; those interrogators were certainly debauched.” We — all of us — let it happen. We — all of us — need to ensure that our country does not descend again into such depravity.

The only way to do that is to hold ALL the rotten apples accountable, from the top to the bottom of the proverbial barrel.

My Country, Misery

My Country, Misery

By David Michael Green

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So... Tom Ridge came clean this week. Woo-hoo.

What a brave and selfless act. Reminds me of Colin Powell completely and totally kinda sorta dissing the Iraq invasion. Great to hear that everything we knew and said and got clobbered for saying at the time was in fact true. Thanks a lot, General. That’s really helpful. Not so great about the whole timing thing though.

Colin Powell was probably the only human on the planet who could have stopped the Iraq holocaust, but he waited instead. He seems to think that loyalty to the president is more important than loyalty to the country, loyalty to principle, or loyalty to the idea of preserving lives. Or so he claims. Given what he has said since he sold the war to Americans with his unconscionably despicable Security Council dog-and-pony show, I’m hard-pressed to see how he’s been loyal even to Bush. Seems kinda like he’s only loyal to Colin, trying to save a place for himself in the history books.

Mr. Ridge, on the other hand, has a book for sale, just in case no one noticed that particular coincidence. Perhaps that explains why he is now revealing the truth about the politicization of the buffoonish ‘terrorism’ color-coding system, a mere five years after he claims it was used to justify the Bush administration’s continued existence, and almost used – save for the brave interventions of, wait for it now..., one Tom Ridge – to put Bush over the top on the eve of the 2004 election. Once again, a bit of timely honesty from Ridge at exactly that moment would almost certainly have terminated the Bush nightmare at a ‘mere’ sickening four years. Imagine the effect on votershad the Little Emperor’s Secretary of Homeland Security resigned in protest on the eve of that election, and said exactly why. Alas, Tom seems to think 2009 a more timely year for his revelations. And then, of course, there’s the book...

All of this has me thinking – as I’m afraid I’ve found myself doing pretty much every day for at least the last decade – “What the hell happened to America?” This country seems to have deteriorated mightily over the course of my lifetime, and I know from the email that I get that I’m hardly alone in believing that.

I’ll confess right off the bat that I am more than a little suspicious of the question itself. Doesn’t every generation think that life was better back in the day? Could it be that I’m just part of the latest cast of regular, vanilla-flavored narcissists now busy transforming themselves into full-blown, old and bitter narcissists?

There’s some pretty good reason to think so. Iraq is a disgusting piece of savagery that was sold on lies and never should have happened in a remotely moral universe. But Vietnam was worse. The Caligula Kid – George W. Bush – and his growly pally, Dick “Dick” Cheney, are about the last persons out of the whole 300 million of us who should have been selected to reside in the White House. But so was Nixon and, in some ways, Johnson too. Karl Rove was a monster who cheapened American politics and the practice of government in every fashion he could possibly imagine. But so did his mentor, Lee Atwater. And so did Atwater’s spiritual antecedent, Joe McCarthy. It many ways, the present disaster often looks like just more of the same, history’s proverbial one damn thing after another.

But my gut tells me that the feelings rumbling around in there are not just the bitter ruminations of some geezer who isn’t even old enough yet to qualify as an old man. I do think something profound and fundamental has changed.

It’s hard to put your finger on it, though. For one thing, it’s not just one thing. It’s not just the politicians. It’s not just the media. It’s not just the institutions of government or the political parties. It’s not just the public. It’s all of that, and a lot more.

And for another thing, it’s not just this or that deadly sin, but all of them, plus a few that weren’t even on the original manufacturer’s list. Is it that we’ve become more deceitful, or more fearful that is the problem? More corrupt, or more vicious? More slothful, or more greedy? And so on, and so on. So many ways to destroy a culture, so little time...

At the risk of sounding a bit too much like the very people I most loathe in the American political and cultural discourse, I think what’s happened is that the society has fundamentally lost its moral bearings. No, I’m not talking about some hyped-up, jerked-off, compulsive obsession with all things sexual. That regressive fixation, complete with enough hypocrisy to sink a small continent, is of course so much a part of the problem, not the solution. What I’m referring to is an unmooring from basic, just, unselfish – and one might even say, patriotic, in the true sense of the term – dignity, generosity, humanity.

Look, let’s not kid ourselves. There’s always been a dark side to the human spirit, and you’ll never go broke betting on the proposition that politics draws more needy and black souls to its practice than do most other professions. As already noted, before Rove there was the shameful scourge of McCarthy, and he was hardly the first political practitioner of the dark arts, in America or elsewhere. But it’s different today.

To begin with, this country has unquestionably drifted to the right over the last thirty years. This is not an entirely simple equation, and indeed, in the domain of social issues such as gay rights or the integration of women and minorities into the economic and political institutions of society, I would even argue that we’ve witnessed a progressive turn during these last decades. Moreover, it’s even possible that we are in the early stages of a leftward turn in other domains as well, given the current crises of American capitalism and foreign policy. Nevertheless, even with all those caveats, who would have imagined in 1970 that America would be far more regressive four decades later, rather than far less?

It’s a libertarian sort of regressivism, to be sure, hence the aforementioned drift to the left on social issues, and perhaps even a new isolationist cast on foreign-policy questions, rejecting the worst excesses of imperialist predation. That’s hard to say. The Iraq experience provides evidence for both a more optimistic or a more pessimistic interpretation of public opinion when it comes to foreign adventures.

But where you really see the rightward turn is in the economic domain. Once, thirty or forty years ago, it was literally a national project to worry about the poor. So much so, in fact, that we decided to fight a war on poverty. By the 1990s, however, that war was lost through an abandonment of the battlefield equating to unconditional surrender. One of the most profoundly significant, and yet simultaneously most subtle developments of the Clinton years was the new and near total emphasis on the lot of the middle class. Not only had America’s poor fallen off the radar screen, but in fact, if they got in the way of the middle class achieving all its bourgeois aspirations and acquiring all its requisite trinkets, then not only would the poor cease to receive additional aid and attention, they would also be cut off from their pathetically minuscule existing forms of relief. This is the true meaning of the welfare reform bill, signed by Clinton in order to guarantee an election he already had in his pocket. The middle class was saying that it wanted tax breaks and a balanced budget, which meant something had to give. There went welfare, and with it the war on poverty.

Just a quick glance at the current political landscape and the figures who populate it gives you a sense of the change that’s transpired. The center of gravity in American politics has moved considerably to the right. Once, not so long ago, the Republican Party was dominated by its centrists, and people like Ronald Reagan were viewed as kooks. It’s worth remembering that in the 1970s Reagan’s presidential aspirations were literally the butt of endless jokes by political comedians. But the guy went from joke to president to saint, and that says a lot about where we are today. At this point, there are almost no center-right figures in the Republican Party, at least at the national level.

The movement of the Democratic Party has followed a similar trajectory. You’d never know it, of course, by listening to the screaming inanities of regressive lunatics, whether elite or rank-and-file. Notwithstanding their foaming rants about Clinton or Obama or Reid or Pelosi being socialists, however, the truth is none of these figures are even vaguely liberal by traditional standards. Compare them to Franklin Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson or even Harry Truman and this is easy to see. Ditto any comparison of these folks to progressives in other Western democracies. Watch what they don’t do – whether that is ending an obscene war or legislating universal single-payer healthcare, or standing up for gay rights – and one can instantly appreciate how little these figures are willing to fight for progressive politics, and how lacking in progressivity are the politics for which they are unwilling to fight.

In addition to the proliferation of adherents to truly scary right-wing politics, and the shifting of the political landscape to the right – which may be more properly considered as the mainstreaming of extremism – I think we’ve also experienced a decimation in the ranks of the politically courageous, people willing to sacrifice career, reputation or even their lives in order to stand fast against the worst impulses in American politics and the most vicious purveyors of those ideas and attitudes. It’s not so much that these people were progressives and now they’re not as it is that they were Americans with integrity, outliers filled with enough decency and courage to stand against the collection of scary monster outliers of the regressive right. Yes, there was Joseph McCarthy. But there was also Joseph Welch. Yes, there was Father Coughlin. But there was also Edward R. Murrow. Yes, there was Richard Nixon. But there was also George McGovern.

Those white knights of integrity seem all but disappeared today. I can remember my astonishment during the Bush versus Gore debacle of 2000 that there wasn’t one single elder statesman of American politics – some Jerry Ford-like figure – who stood up and said “I’m sorry, but this is wrong”. Who risked the alienation of his party and peers by making the case that it’s far less important who wins the vote than it is that the vote be legitimately won. I remember during the Clinton fiasco – when a sitting president the United States was being impeached for lying about a blow job, when he was almost hounded out of office by members of Congress who literally were stalking boy interns or trolling airport men’s rooms for sex, having serial affairs and dumping their wives for their paramours as their spouses lay in the hospital cancer ward on their recovery bed, or fathering children in second families no one knew about – I remember thinking who will call an end to this madness which has infected the American body politic? But nobody of stature did. Nor did they, of course, in the worst instance of all, as a handful of psychopaths invented a couple of absurd pretexts and marched the country off into a completely unnecessary war in Iraq, which has now claimed perhaps a million lives. How is it that nobody of standing had the courage to stand up and say to the American public, “Come to your senses, this is wrong, the administration is lying to you, think for yourself!”?

So much is wrong in American politics today – genuinely more so, I think, than in the past. So many are culpable. Congress is more worthless than ever, and that’s really saying something. The Democratic Party has thrilled the biology community by creating a whole new class of invertebrates, utterly worthless in office, and wholly undeserving of the title of opposition party when not. The mass media has become the most despicable collection of whores to power imaginable. Whatever sense there once was – from the original notions of the Founders up through the era of Cronkite – of the media serving the public interest as critical watchdogs over government has long since transmogrified into just another profit center on corporate balance sheets.

But even more fundamentally, something has changed at the level of political culture. Something is broken at the level of human decency. The toxic combination of rampant American individualism, right-wing successes in framing public attitudes in all the sickest and most corrosive ways, a litany of false prophets preaching bogus religious salvation through even more deceitful notions of political morality, and the gravitational pull from the declining trajectory of an empire that has most assuredly now passed its sell-by date – all of this has conspired to produce a monstrous polity lurching about the global landscape without a heart or a conscience, and eating itself from within for the very same reasons.

Worse still, as time marches on, fewer and fewer will remain who remember that it wasn’t forever thus.

That once there were lines that were not crossed in American politics.

That there were notions of decency that transcended partisanship and ideology.

That those who left flesh overseas fighting the country’s wars and brought home Purple Hearts instead were not vitiated during political campaigns as allies of America’s adversaries, and especially not by cowards who somehow managed to skip their generation’s major national security engagement.

That there were political crimes that simply required courageous responses, regardless of the sacrifices involved.

That political leaders could and should sacrifice their positions and perhaps even their careers in order to avoid the taint of association with morally repugnant policies.

That even troubadours had a responsibility to sing great anthems in protest against injustice, rather than cashing out and selling panties and bras for Victoria’s Secret.

That there was once a thing known as true patriotism, elevating the public interest over everything else.

And, yes, even over personal profit.

Is The USA A Sick Country Or What?

Is The USA A Sick Country Or What?



By Dave Lindorff

Go To Original

You see, here's the thing. When you hear about the sick, twisted things that America's torturers have been doing, courtesy of President George W. Bush and Vice President Darth Cheney, you have to remember that the US military and the CIA were not really all that reliable when it came to picking up the real terrorists. In fact, their batting average was pretty lousy.

According to even the Pentagon's own reckoning, for example, probably 85% of the captives being held at Guantanamo over the past eight years were not terrorists at all, and a fair number--probably the majority--weren't even fighting anyone when they were captured. I'm sure that the averages at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, or at the secret prison in Iraq are no better. The military was offering bounties in Iraq and Afghanistan for alleged terrorists, you see, and probably still is, but in both of those lawless, tribal countries, many people have used the offer to settle old feuds, turning in people they wanted to punish or dispose of, and many others just turned in random people to get the reward money.

Remember this when you hear about torture tactics that we are learning were used by our side--things that make waterboarding sound like a walk in the park. We're now getting confirmation of things that we journalists were hearing rumors of earlier: faked executions using blanks, faked executions in neighboring rooms, followed by threats of the same to a person who had just heard the screams and a shot in the cell next to him, threats with an electric drill, and now perhaps the worst yet--the threat to kill a captive's children. And of course there is the already disclosed case of a captive who had his genitals cut with a razor, and generous use of tasers in places on the body designed to cause maximum pain. That, and of course there are a lot raped captives (including young boys), and a lot of bodies yet to be dug up of captives who were simply killed during torture.

We've got a litany of horror and abuse here that sounds like the worst kind of stories that used to come out of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, or the Argentine Junta or Idi Amin's Uganda. About the only thing missing is word that the military and CIA torturers were eating their victims, or feeding them their own genitals, but who knows? Maybe we'll get there yet. It's hard at this point to rule anything out.

What has become of the US? We started out the victims of an attack in 2001, with the whole world rallying to our side, and within a matter of weeks, our government, acting in our name, had secretly embarked on a wholly unnecessary and totally criminal descent into the barbarity of Middle Ages.

And now? The new administration has claimed to have put a stop to the atrocities, but it remains adamant that it is not going to root out the evil that was already done to hundreds, perhaps thousands of people.

President Barack Obama says he does not want to look back at any crimes that were committed. He wants to go "forward." This is not the voice of justice, though. This is the voice of political gutlessness and of big power exceptionalism. The same America that demands the prosecution of war criminals in little countries like Cambodia or Serbia or Sudan, considers itself exempt from criminal liability for its own crimes.

Attorney General Eric Holder now says he is appointing a special prosecutor, John Durham, to investigate cases where CIA or private contract torturers "overstepped" the rules set by the White House and Justice Department, but he has said he will not allow the investigation to go beyond that to pursue the people who enabled those acts of torture--people like Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who personally instructed torturers in Afghanistan to "take the gloves off" in one case, or Assistant Attorney Generals John Yoo and Jay Baybee (now a federal judge), who ruled that anything short of the destruction of bodily organs or of a pain level equivalent to death was okay. Nor will he allow any investigation to look at acts of torture that were authorized, like waterboarding, if they had the sanction of the Bush/Cheney White House.

This position taken by the new administration should sicken us all. Worse, it should be broadly condemned, because if the descent into barbarity which occurred with the highest White House sanction is not investigated thoroughly, and punished fully, there is no way we can say it will not happen again. In fact, it's safe to say that it will happen again, the next time another charlatan gets into office and uses fear to blind the American people to all that is right and decent, and to the importance of maintaining the rule of law.

I know there are terrible things happening right now which demand our attention and action--an escalating, endless war in Afghanistan that increasingly resembles Vietnam in 1966 or 1967, a presidential cave-on on health care reform, a sell-out on real action against climate change, and on and on--but this particular crime--the crime of failing to act to punish violations of the Geneva Conventions on treatment of prisoners of war, which is being committed today by the Obama administration--is so obscene, so directly in our faces, and is such a stain on the whole nation, that it demands action.

We will probably never know how many innocent lives have been destroyed by America's eight years of officially sanctioned torture, but we can at least see to it that the people who sanctioned it, and not just those who engaged in it (and that goes right up through the chain of command to the Commander in Chief and to the real power behind the throne, Dick Cheney), are put in the dock like the criminals at Nuremberg, to face the charge of war crimes. and crimes against humanity.

As the citizens of what we call a democracy, we can demand nothing less.

The Widening Gap In America's Two Tiered Society

The Widening Gap In America's Two Tiered Society

By Emily Spence

Go To Original

Americans, particularly ones from the middle class, need to realize that there are no core entitlements imparted by their government representatives, nor any other sources. They have none and should adjust their expectations accordingly.
If the U.S. populace somehow imagines that its members are viewed any differently than any other populations across the world that are used to produce maximal profits for the top economic class, there's a rude awakening in store ahead. Further, most legislators simply do not care whether middle and lower class interests are or aren't well served as long as they, themselves, can somehow make out well in the times ahead.
Besides, why should any Americans feel that they deserve to be treated more favorably by the transnational moneyed elites and their government backers than their counterparts across the rest of the world? As A. H. Bill reminds: "The richest 225 people in the world today control more wealth than the poorest 2.5 billion people. And... the three richest people in the world control more wealth than the poorest 48 nations."
Occasionally someone making a staggering amount of money in a crooked sort of way might raise a few officials' eyebrows or induce a mild reprimand. In addition, he might, occasionally, be singled out as the token fall guy so as to be made into a warning example as was Bernie Madoff. Most of the time, though, no action is usually undertaken to correct the situation when directors of major companies carry out activities that are, obviously, right on or over the edge of fraudulent practices.
As Barak Obama, perhaps hypocritically, chastened, “Under Republican and Democratic administrations, we failed to guard against practices that all too often rewarded financial manipulation instead of productive and sound business practices. We let the special interests put their thumbs on the economic scales.”
Yet, he, himself, showed no hesitation during his election campaign over collecting $40,925 from the bailout fund recipient and nearly bankrupt investment house Bear Stearns, $161,850 from the bailout fund recipient and mortgage underwriter Morgan Stanley, as well as benefits from countless other institutions that have received government favors at taxpayers' expense. As such, it's hard in actuality to deliver more than just a mild verbal rebuke about these organizations' modus operandi if one picks up a personal windfall from not meddling. Thus, the financial corruption continues at all levels of government.
A case in point is the self-serving oil trader Andrew Hall. His relationship with Citigroup's (C.N) Phibro energy-trading unit brought him approximately $100 million in 2008 despite that his parent company registered a net deficit of $18.7 billion for the same year and received $45 billion in TARP funds.
However, it's been pointed out that he could moderately adjust his current level of gain and continue to maintain the same procurement pattern if he manages to stay out of the limelight. If he follows this plan in the near future, his earnings and bonuses won't likely duplicate the $250 million personal compensation that he'd received in the past five years. Yet, he could still make out quite well all the same!
In any event, one has to question such lavish rewards considering that Citigroup suffered a 95% loss of its share value since 2007 in relation to which Phibro "occasionally accounts for a disproportionate chunk of Citigroup income." At the same time, the U.S. government will shortly be the owner of 34% of this company. Put more bluntly, is Andrew Hall's personal prosperity and propensity to add to his private art collect the best use of taxpayers' funds?
As long as he's a lavish beneficiary, would he care if they weren't? As the economist John Kenneth Galbraith once suggested: “The salary of the chief executive of a large corporation is not a market award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself.” Naturally, Andrew Hall aims to keep such a cozy arrangement intact.
Besides, his personal take is relatively inconsequential. It's a mere pittance contrasted to the almost two and a quarter billion dollars grand total -- roughly $2,217,800,000 -- that the top ten U.S. business moguls collectively grossed as their own recompense in 2008. [1]
At the same time, it cannot not be expected, in a market based economy, that political influence is not also a purchased commodity. Clearly, opinions are bought and sold just as easily as are any other products and services with payment being campaign funds, such as Obama's, from big industry; offers of high paying future jobs and other lavish advantages dangled as bait.
On account of this kind of shady deal, tax subsidies connected to executive pay amounted to $20 billion in 2008 according to United for a Fair Economy (UFE) and Institute for Policy Studies. (Imagine if this money, instead, were allocated towards improvements in public education, provision of a universal heath-care plan or any number of other programs that could uplift the American public as a whole.)
During the same period, average CEO pay, at $10.54 million, was 344% higher than typical worker pay. This disparity, also, is generally indicative of a trend that increasingly funnels wealth upward rather than having it more equitably distributed across class lines.
Another sign of this ascendant drift can be found in the change between the first Forbes 400 report (1982) and its 2008 version. In 1982, an entrepreneur only needed slightly more than $100 million dollars to get on the list. By 2008, he wouldn't be in the top 400 unless he'd garnered at least $1.3 billion. In other words, so much more wealth shot upward in the last twenty years that $100 million now is almost viewed as chump change in comparison to the new top gains.
In addition, Congressional reports have indicated that widespread tax avoidance tricks, like use of overseas banks that do not report amounts to the IRS, have cost taxpayers more than $2 billion annually. Certainly, these lost moneys could well be used to help people less fortunate. For example, the hidden $2 billion could be used to create job training programs for any of the one in nine Americans currently forced to rely on food stamps as an alternative to starvation.
To be eligible for such aid, a family of four, for example, has to have no more than $2,389 as its gross monthly income or 130% of the official poverty level and no more than $1,838 net monthly income or 100% of the poverty level. (There are few deductions and exceptions to the requirements allowed, along with limits for owned property value imposed, that further determine whether one meets qualifications.)
In other words, a typical household of four cannot receive this help if the gross income for the foursome exceeds $28,668 annually and, for an individual, the gross not to be surpassed is $14,088. Additionally, recipients cannot have a great deal of assets with a clearly defined, too high level of worth.
As such, they have to be nearly broke across the board. Meanwhile, it's clearly disgraceful that more than 27,651,388 Americans are so extremely poor they require food assistance to try to make ends meet.
Even that help, though, is often not enough to prevent further poverty and many folks are unable to avoid outright destitution across the so-called wealthy U.S.A. So next, they lose their homes... and they lose them in droves.
The huge portion of Americans who do so are staggering: While the number of U.S. foreclosure filings climbed by more than 81% in 2008, the total is still sharply rising in 2009. In relation, 300,000 homes foreclosed per month from March to May in 2009 and 1.8 million homes represented the anticipated total for the first half of the year. With such a backdrop, one out of every 398 homes received a filing in April and a whooping 6.4 million homes are anticipated to be in foreclosure by mid-2011. Simultaneously, a record number of individuals, also, applied for bankruptcy.
In a similar vein, the jobless rate, despite some minor dips downward, is still seemingly on the rise. Therefore, the current number of out of work adults could well exceed 20% if all of the hopeless ones, who are no longer collecting unemployment benefits and who gave up looking for opportunities, are added into the mix.
Moreover, they will not be able to jumpstart the economy so long as they cannot find work, and especially work at a living wage. After all, how can anyone make lots of purchases or take out bank loans if he has no reasonable income? So it follows that even more retail and wholesale stores, along with banks, will go belly up.
At the same time, the supply side of the market, itself, has created labor troubles. This is because goods have been overproduced. Consequently, there is overstock piled high in warehouses and shipping containers across the world ready to resume its path to the market once the spending reinitializes. However, spending cannot resume as long as the money has largely flowed to the top economic tier and away from average former and low wage workers, who can not expect to have decent paying jobs to create more goods until the current product glut diminishes.
In other words, consumers can't buy much when money's tight and work won't be provided when there's an oversupply of merchandise largely produced in second world sweatshops whose workers are paid so little that they hardly can put food on their own tables let alone make many more extravagant purchases -- ones like toothpaste, soap and shampoo. Besides, they, too, face employment opportunities diminishing because worldwide sales are down for many of the products that, previously, their companies too copiously produced.
Concurrently, the bailouts, oriented towards fixing the credit side of the equation, are not addressing these sorts of supply side problems. Therefore, they will not keep the financial collapse from worsening.
Alternately put, TARP and other payoffs to the self-serving, unconscionable banksters and Wall Street high rollers largely responsible for the downturn will not produce an abundance of jobs. So the reasonable salaries, ultimately needed to buy the wares to cause industrial output to resume, won't materialize any time soon.
It's rather simple to understand, really. So why don't Ben Bernanke and his colleagues seem to notice that massive job loss, itself, needs to be addressed posthaste? Why hasn't a public works program been initiated? Why don't they grasp that the act of offshoring all kinds of American jobs to maximize profits at the top tier does not ensure that products will be avidly snapped up by a greatly unemployed and underemployed public?
Since they, apparently, don't understand, the downturn, with a few small upward twists, will remain in its plunging slide, which in turn will create further layoffs. All the while, the über-wealthy and their corporate supporters, such as most members of Congress, will continue to pamper themselves with capital largely derived from struggling taxpayers and massive loans that raise the federal deficit.
More to the point, how could the slump not last when the affluent elites gamble away huge fortunes comprising of their own and others' money while manufacturing bubbles and Ponzi schemes in the process? How could anything change when they keep amassing more and more assets for themselves while indifferent to their impact on society as a whole?
Such practices as theirs, obviously, cannot sustain the American middle and under classes and it cannot buoy up the utmost bottom rung either. On account, scores of individuals of all ages continue to wind up in tent cities or ensconced on public park benches. (Supposedly, families with children represent the fastest growing subset of the homeless population in the U.S.A. at present and the average age of a homeless person is nine years old.)
When the upper-crust keeps getting richer by taking an ever greater portion of the overall wealth and government schemes assure that the process continues, nearly everyone else becomes increasingly cash poor. When every now and then big investors suffer hefty losses, the government steps in to shore them up again and again. However, this practice, clearly, does not help the populace in general. The evidence that it does not can be seen everywhere across the American landscape and the entire world.
It follows, then, that, "in the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2004, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.3% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.3%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.2%...", according to G. William Domhoff, a sociology professor at University of California at Santa Cruz. [2]
Another way to measure the shift in wealth is by noting some of the corporate trends, themselves. As Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh, at the Institute for Policy Studies, point out:
  1. Of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations; only 49 are countries (based on a comparison of corporate sales and country GDPs).
  2. The Top 200 corporations' sales are growing at a faster rate than overall global economic activity. Between 1983 and 1999, their combined sales grew from the equivalent of 25.0 percent to 27.5 percent of World GDP.
  3. The Top 200 corporations' combined sales are bigger than the combined economies of all countries minus the biggest 10.
  4. The Top 200s' combined sales are 18 times the size of the combined annual income of the 1.2 billion people (24 percent of the total world population) living in ''severe'' poverty.
  5. While the sales of the Top 200 are the equivalent of 27.5 percent of world economic activity, they employ only 0.78 percent of the world's workforce. [3]
Especially exemplifying this type of corporate immensity is the Wal Mart company. For example, the Walton heirs have a collective worth of around $65 billion and over 1.7 billion shares, or 43%, of Wal Mart stock in addition to earning $29 billion off the stock price rise alone from November 2007 to June 2008.
Meanwhile, the Waltons pay their jean laborers in Nicaragua approximately $1.50/ day. Simultaneously, their average U.S. workers are given wages of about $12,000/ annum causing a full one half of Wal Mart's 720,000 employees to qualify for food stamps.
At the same time, the clearly exploitive Wal Mart business model is considered an unqualified success -- one that should be more often duplicated across the board. After all, it shows the capitalistic free market with its best possible outcome -- profits beyond imagination and the American Dream come true (for the few who manage to take unfair advantage of the actual wealth producers)!
Perhaps, though, the best way to look at the new arrangement between citizens, State and the rising corporate structures is through this superlative summation by Benito Mussolini:
The corporate State considers that private enterprise in the sphere of production is the most effective and useful instrument in the interest of the nation. In view of the fact that private organisation of production is a function of national concern, the organiser of the enterprise is responsible to the State for the direction given to production.

State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management. [4]

Even if Benito Mussolini's position has an alarmingly familiar ring to it, no one still should expect U.S. legislators to create laws any time soon that would enact tax code changes in order to remove subsidies that encourage overpayment to executives and that cost taxpayers $20 billion a year. Indeed, nobody should expect any major changes at all that would level the financial playing field, remove a sense of economic injustice or bring back jobs and reasonable wages to the American people.
As Joel H. Rassman, Toll Bros. CFO in 2006, explained about CEO Robert I. Toll's $20 million compensation while shareholders were suffering a 22% loss: "I have yet to meet the person who has enough money."
Like Toll, a majority of Congressional representatives, of whom many are multi-millionaires, apparently imagine that they never have quite enough for themselves and justify their dodgy choices accordingly. They, also, know who butters their bread and it surely is not the increasingly impoverished average U.S. citizens, who continue to be the indirect victims of corporate rapacity and pathetic corporate oversight by executives and Congressmen alike.
In relation, one wonders when a significant number of Americans will, finally, recognize that they've been had. Put another way by Andrew Greeley: "It should be no surprise that when rich men take control of the government, they pass laws that are favorable to themselves. The surprise is that those who are not rich vote for such people, even though they should know from bitter experience that the rich will continue to rip off the rest of us. Perhaps the reason is that rich men are very clever at covering up what they do."
This explanation in mind, we need not worry as much about the terrorists from abroad as the terrorists from above and the duped voters who repeatedly fall for political candidates pandering to this broadly malignant upper class. The latter bunch and their sycophantic legislative admirers, more than any foreign guerrillas, are leading the world's wealthiest nation into ever deeper ruin.
Emily Spence is an author living in Massachusetts. She has spent many years involved in human rights, environmental and social services efforts.
REFERENCES:
[4] Benito Mussolini, 1935, Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions, Rome, 'Ardita' Publishers. pp. 133-135.

Zionism: An “Abnormal” Nationalism

Zionism: An “Abnormal” Nationalism


By M. Shahid Alam

Go To Original

The ultimate goal…is, in time, to take over the Land of Israel and to restore to the Jews the political independence they have been deprived of for these two thousand years…The Jews will yet arise and, arms in hand (if need be), declare that they are the masters of their ancient homeland.

— Vladimir Dubnow, 1882

Zionism is best described as an abnormal nationalism. This singular fact has engendered a history of deepening conflicts between Israel — leading an alliance of Western states — and the Islamicate more generally.

Jewish ‘nationalism’ was abnormal for two reasons. It was homeless: it did not possess a homeland. The Jews of Europe were not a majority in, or even exercised control over, any territory that could become the basis of a Jewish state. We do not know of another nationalist movement in recent memory that started with such a land deficit — that is, without a homeland.

Arguably, Jewish nationalism was without a nation too. The Jews were a religious aggregate, consisting of communities, scattered across many regions and countries, some only tenuously connected to others, but who shared the religious traditions derived from, or an identity connected to, Judaism. Over the centuries, Jews had been taught that a divinely appointed Messiah would restore them to Zion; but such a Messiah never appeared; or when he did, his failure to deliver ‘proved’ that he was false. Indeed, while the Jews prayed for the appearance of the Messiah, they had no notion about when this might happen. In addition, since the nineteenth century, Reform Jews have interpreted their chosenness metaphorically. Max Nordau complained bitterly that for the Reform Jew, “the word Zion had just as little meaning as the word dispersion…He denies that there is a Jewish people and that he is a member of it.”

Since Zionism was a nationalism without a homeland or a nation, its protagonists would have to create both. To compensate for the first deficit, the Zionists would have to acquire a homeland: they would have to expropriate territory that belonged to another people. In other words, a homeless nationalism, of necessity, is a charter for conquest and — if it is exclusionary — for ethnic cleansing. At the same time, the Zionists would have to start creating a Jewish nation out of the heterogeneous Jewish colons they would assemble in their newly minted homeland. At the least, they would have to create a nucleus of Jews who were willing to settle in Palestine and committed to creating the infrastructure of a Jewish society and state in Palestine. For many years, this nucleus would be small, since, Jews, overwhelmingly, preferred assimilation and revolution in Europe to colonizing Palestine.

A Jewish nation would begin to grow around this small nucleus only if the Zionists could demonstrate that their scheme was not a chimera. The passage of the Zionist plan — from chimera to reality — would be delivered by three events: imposition of tight immigration restrictions in most Western countries starting in the 1900s, the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and the rise to power of the Nazis in 1933. As a result, when European Jews began fleeing Nazi persecution, most of them had nowhere to go to but Palestine.

In their bid to create a Jewish state in Palestine, the Zionists could not stop at half-measures. They could not — and did not wish to — introduce Jews as only one element in the demography of the conquered territory. The Zionists sought to establish a Jewish state in Palestine; this had always been their goal. Officially, they never acknowledge that the creation of a Jewish state would have to be preceded, accompanied, or followed by ethnic cleansing. Nevertheless, it is clear from the record now available that Zionists wanted nothing less than to make Palestine “as Jewish as England is English.” If the Palestinians could not be bribed to leave, they would have to be forced out.

The Zionists were determined to reenact in the middle of the twentieth century the exclusive settler colonialism of an earlier epoch. They were determined to repeat the supremacist history of the white colons in the Americas and Oceania. By the measure of any historical epoch, much less that of an age of decolonization, the Zionist project was radical in the fate it had planned for the Palestinians: their complete or near-complete displacement from Palestine. A project so daring, so radical, so anachronistic could only emerge from unlimited hubris, deep racial contempt for the Palestinians, and a conviction that the ‘primitive’ Palestinians would prove to be utterly lacking in the capacity to resist their own dispossession.

The Zionists faced another challenge. They had to convince Jews that they are a nation, a Jewish nation, who deserved more than any nation in the world — because of the much greater antiquity of Jews — to have their own state, a Jewish state in Palestine. It was the duty of Jews, therefore, to work for the creation of this Jewish state by supporting the Zionists, and, most importantly, by emigrating to Palestine. Most Jews in the developed Western countries had little interest in becoming Jewish pioneers in Palestine; their lives had improved greatly in the previous two or three generations and they did not anticipate any serious threats from anti-Semitism. The Jews in Eastern Europe did face serious threats to their lives and property from anti-Semites, but they too greatly preferred moving to safer and more prosperous countries in Western Europe, the Americas, South Africa, and Australia. Persuading Jews to move to Palestine was proving to be a far more difficult task than opening up Palestine to unlimited Jewish colonization. Zionism needed a stronger boost from anti-Semites than they had provided until the early 1930s.

The Zionists always understood that their movement would have to be driven by Jewish fears of anti-Semitism. They were also quite sanguine that there would be no paucity of such assistance, especially from anti-Semites in Eastern Europe. Indeed, now that the Zionists had announced a political program to rid Europe of its Jews, would the anti-Semites retreat just when some Jews were implicitly asking for their assistance in their own evacuation from Europe? This was a match made in heaven for the anti-Semites. Once the Zionists had also brought the anti-Semites in messianic camouflage — the Christian Zionists — on board, this alliance became more broad-based and more enduring. Together, by creating and continuing to support Israel, these allies would lay the foundations of a deepening conflict against the Islamicate.

Zionism was a grave assault on the history of the global resistance to imperialism that unfolded even as Jewish colons in Palestine laid the foundations of their colonial settler state. The Zionists sought to abolish the ground realities in the Middle East established by Islam over the previous thirteen hundred years. They sought to overturn the demography of Palestine, to insert a European presence in the heart of the Islamicate, and to serve as the forward base for Western powers intent on dominating the Middle East. The Zionists could succeed only by combining the forces of the Christian and Jewish West in an assault that would almost certainly be seen as a new, latter-day Crusade to marginalize the Islamicate peoples in the Middle East.

It was delusional to assume that the Zionist challenge to the Islamicate would go unanswered. The Zionists had succeeded in imposing their Jewish state on the Islamicate because of the luck of timing — in addition to all the other factors that had favored them. The Islamicate was at its weakest in the decades following the destruction of the Ottoman Empire; even a greatly weakened Ottoman Empire had resisted for more than two decades Zionist pressures to grant them a charter to create a Jewish state in Palestine. The first wave of Arab resistance against Israel — led by secular nationalists from the nascent bourgeoisie classes — lacked the structures to wage a people’s war. Taking advantage of this Arab weakness, Israel quickly dismantled the Arab nationalist movement, whose ruling classes began making compromises with Israel and its Western allies. This setback to the resistance was temporary.

The Arab nationalist resistance would slowly be replaced by another that would draw upon Islamic roots; this return to indigenous ideas and structures would lay the foundations of a resistance that would be broader, deeper, many-layered, and more resilient than the one it would replace. The overarching ambitions of Israel — to establish its hegemony over the central lands of the Islamicate — would guarantee the emergence of this new response. The quick collapse of the Arab nationalist resistance in the face of Israeli victories ensured that the deeper Islamicate response would emerge sooner rather than later. As a result, Israel today confronts — now in alliance with Arab rulers — the entire Islamicate, a great mass of humanity, which is determined to overthrow this alliance. If one recalls that the Islamicate is now a global community, enjoying demographic dominance in a region that stretches from Mauritania to Mindanao — and now counts more than a billion and a half people, whose growth rate exceeds that of any other collectivity — one can easily begin to comprehend the eventual scale of this Islamicate resistance against the Zionist imposition.

In the era preceding the rise of the Nazis, the Zionist idea — even from a Jewish standpoint — was an affront to more than two millennia of their own history. Jews had started migrating to the farthest points in the Mediterranean long before the second destruction of the Temple, where they settled down and converted many local peoples to the Jewish faith. Over time, conversions to Judaism established Jewish communities farther afield — beyond the Mediterranean world. In the 1890s, however, a small but determined cabal of European Jews proposed a plan to abrogate the history of global Jewish communities extending over millennia. They were determined to accomplish what the worst anti-Semites had failed to do: to empty Europe and the Middle East of their Jewish population and transport them to Palestine, a land to which they had a spiritual connection — just as Muslims in Bangladesh, Bosnia, and Burkina Faso are connected to Mecca and Medina — but to which their racial or historical connections were nonexistent or tenuous at best. Was the persecution of Jews in Europe before the 1890s sufficient cause to justify such a radical reordering of the human geography of the world’s Jewish populations?

A more ominous implication flowed from another peculiarity of Zionism. Unlike other white settlers, the Jewish colons lacked a natural mother country, a Jewish state that could support their colonization of Palestine. In the face of this deficiency, the career of any settler colonialism would have ended prematurely. Instead, because of the manner in which this deficit was overcome, the Zionists acquired the financial, political, and military support of much of the Western world. This was not the result of a conspiracy, but flowed from the peculiar position that Jews — at the end of the nineteenth century — had come to occupy in the imagination, geography, economy, and the polities of the Western world.

The Zionists drew their primary support from the Western Jews, many of whom by the middle of the nineteenth century were members of the most influential segments of Western societies. Over time, as Western Jews gravitated to Zionism, their awesome financial and intellectual assets would become available to the Jewish colons in Palestine. The Jewish colons drew their leadership — in the areas of politics, the economy, industry, civilian and military technology, organization, propaganda, and science — from the pool of Europe’s best. It can scarcely be doubted that the Jewish colons brought overwhelming advantages to their contest against the Palestinians and the neighboring Arabs. No other colonists, contemporaneous with the Zionists or in the nineteenth century, brought the same advantages to their enterprise vis-à-vis the natives.

Pro-Zionist Western Jews would make a more critical contribution to the long-term success of Zionism. They would mobilize their resources — as well-placed members of the financial, intellectual, and cultural elites of Western societies — to make the case for Zionism, to silence criticism of Israel, and generate domestic political pressures to secure the support of Western powers for Israel. In other words, the Zionist ability to recruit Western allies depended critically upon the peculiar position that Jews held in the imagination, prejudices, history, geography, economy, and politics of Western societies.

The Jews have always had a ‘special’ relationship with the Christian West; they were special even as objects of Christian hatred. Judaism has always occupied the unenviable position of being a parent religion that was overtaken by a heresy. For many centuries, the Christians regarded the Jews, hitherto God’s ‘chosen people,’ with disdain for rejecting Jesus. Nevertheless, they incorporated the Jewish scriptures into their own religious canon. This tension lies at the heart of Western ambivalence toward Jews; it is also one of the chief sources of the enduring hatred that Christians have directed toward the Jews.

In addition, starting in the fifteenth century, the Protestants entered into a new relationship with Judaism and Jews. In many ways, the Protestants drew inspiration from the Hebrew bible, began to read its words literally, and paid greater attention to its prophesies about end times. The theology of the English Puritans, in particular, assigned a special role to the Jews in their eschatology. The Jews would have to gather in Jerusalem before the Second Coming of Jesus; later, this theology was taken up by the English Evangelicals who carried it to the United States. Over time, with the growing successes of (Jewish) Zionism, the Evangelicals slowly became its most ardent supporters in the United States. The obverse of the Evangelical’s Zionism is a virulent hatred of Islam and Muslims.

Most importantly, however, it was the entry of Jews into mainstream European society — mostly during the nineteenth century — that paved the way for Zionist influence over the politics of several key Western states. The Zionists very deftly used the Jewish presence in the ranks of European elites to set up a competition among the great Western powers — especially Britain, Germany, and France — to gain Jewish support in their wars with each other, and to undermine the radical movements in Europe that were also dominated by Jews. Starting with World War II, the pro-Zionist Jews would slowly build a network of organizations, develop their rhetoric, and take leadership positions in important sectors of American civil society until they had gained the ability to define the parameters within which the United States could operate in the Middle East.

Serendipitously, it appears, pro-Zionist Jews also found, ready at hand, a rich assortment of negative energies in the West that they could harness to their own project. The convergence of their interests with that of the anti-Semites was perhaps the most propitious. The anti-Semites wanted the Jews out of Europe, and so did the Zionists. Anti-Semitism would also become the chief facilitator of the Jewish nationalism that the Zionists sought to create. In addition, the Zionists could muster support for their project by appealing to Western religious bigotry against Muslims as well as their racist bias against the Arabs as ‘inferior’ non-whites.

The Zionists would also argue that their project was closely aligned with the strategic interests of Western powers in the Middle East. This claim had lost its validity by the end of the nineteenth century, when Britain was firmly established in Egypt and it was the dominant power in the Indian Ocean. Indeed, the insertion of an exclusionary Jewish colonial settler state into the Islamicate geographical matrix was certain to provoke waves of resistance from the Muslim peoples. Western interests in the Islamicate were not positively aligned with the Zionist project. Yet, once Israel had been created, it would provoke anti-Western feelings in the Middle East, which, conveniently, the Zionists would deepen and offer as the rationale for supporting and arming Israel to protect Western interests against Arab and, later, Islamicate threats.

Israel was the product of a partnership that seems unlikely at first blush, between Western Jews and the Christian West. It is the powerful alchemy of the Zionist idea that produced and sustained this partnership. The Zionist project to create a Jewish state in Palestine possessed the power to convert two historical antagonists, Jews and Gentiles, into allies united in a common imperialist enterprise against the Islamicate. At different times, the Zionists have harnessed all the negative energies of the West — its imperialism, anti-Semitism, Crusading zeal, anti-Islamic bigotry, and racism — and focused them on a new project, the creation of a surrogate Western state in the Islamicate heartland. At the same time, the West could derive considerable satisfaction from the success of the Zionist project. Western societies could take ownership of, and revel in, the triumphs of this colonial state as their own; they could congratulate themselves for helping ‘save’ the Jewish people; they could feel they had made adequate amends for their history of anti-Semitism; they could feel they had finally paid back the Arabs and Turks for their conquests of Christian lands. Israel possessed a marvelous capacity to feed several of the West’s egotistical needs.

As a vehicle for facilitating Jewish entry into the stage of world history, the Zionist project was a stroke of brilliance. Since the Jews were influential, but without a state of their own, the Zionists were going to leverage Western power in their cause. As the Zionist plan would unfold, inflicting pain on the Islamicate, evoking Islamicate anger against the West and Jews, the complementarities between the two ancient adversaries would deepen, and, over time, new commonalities would be discovered or created between these two antagonist strains of Western history. In the United States, the Zionist movement would encourage Evangelical Christians — who looked upon the birth of Israel as the fulfillment of end-time prophecies — to become fanatic partisans of Israel. The West had hitherto traced its central ideas and institutions to Rome and Athens; in the wake of Zionist successes, it would be repackaged as a Judeo-Christian civilization, drawing its core principles, its inspiration from the Old Testament. This reframing would not only underscore the Jewish roots of the Western world: it would also make a point of emphasizing that Islam is the outsider, the eternal adversary opposed to both.

Zionism owes its success solely to this unlikely partnership. The Zionists could not have created a Jewish state in Palestine by bribing the Ottomans into granting them a charter to colonize Palestine. Despite his offers of loans, investments, technology, and diplomatic expertise, Theodore Herzl was repeatedly rebuffed by the Ottoman Sultan. It is even less likely that the Zionists, at any time, could have mobilized a Jewish army to invade and occupy Palestine, against Ottoman and Arab opposition. The Zionist partnership with the West was indispensable for the creation of a Jewish state.

This partnership was also fateful. It produced a powerful new dialectic, which has encouraged Israel — as the political center of the Jewish diaspora and the chief outpost of the West in the heart of the Islamic world — to become ever more aggressive in its designs against the Islamicate. In turn, a fragmented, weak and humiliated Islamicate, more resentful and determined after every defeat at the hands of Israel, has been driven to embrace increasingly radical ideas and methods to recover its dignity, wholeness, and power, and to seek to attain this recovery on the strength of Islamic ideas. This destabilizing dialectic has now brought the West itself into a direct confrontation against the Islamicate. This is the tragedy of Israel. It is a tragedy whose ominous consequences, including those that have yet to unfold, were contained in the very idea of an exclusive Jewish state in Palestine.