Before the Explosion
- We now know (through witness testimony from Tyrone Benton) that there were cracks reported in the drill casing two weeks prior to the disaster and that it was leaking, but BP did nothing about it. (LINK)
- Hours before the explosion, Deepwater Horizon installation manager Jimmy Harrell was witnessed by other rig workers screaming “Are you ****ing happy? Are you ****ing happy? The rig’s on fire! I told you this was going to happen!” (LINK)
- Goldman Sachs sold 44% of their total holdings, 4,680,822 shares of BP stock in the first quarter of 2010. The investment firm earned about USD $266 million on the sale. (LINK)
- Contrary to popular opinion, the Deepwater Horizon (Mississippi Canyon 252) oil rig that exploded is not the property of BP, but rather is the property of Transocean. (LINK) Both companies are financially directed by Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and UBS investment bankers, all operating in the Rothschild League of banks. (LINK)
- BP CEO Tony Hayward sold £1.4 million worth of his BP shares weeks before the explosion. This represented 1/3 of his holdings. (LINK)
- A little over one week before the explosion, Halliburton purchased an oil spill prevention company called Boots & Coots. Apparently, Halliburton also had some “psychic insight” on what was soon to come. (LINK)
- Halliburton has admitted that it was involved in the “cementing” process (a process that involves plugging holes in the pipeline seal by pumping cement into it from the rig). Halliburton was forced to admit in testimony at a congressional hearing in April 2010 that it knew that the cementation jobs were likely to fail. (LINK)
- Just hours before the rig explosion, The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) took part in a “surprise inspection” aboard the Deepwater Horizon. In an interview, Zac Zimmerman revealed how odd this particular BLM visit really was, in light of the fact that many rigs have burned for weeks at a time without collapsing. (VIDEO)
- On April 14, 2010 (6 days before the explosion), the Management Board of the Eurex Stock Exchange introduced an equity option on shares of Transocean. Get this….the equity option was effective on April 20th… the day of the explosion. Basically, this gave all the “insiders” ONE FULL DAY to dump their uninsured Transocean stock (using put options) at the highest possible price, then repurchase the same stock after it plummeted. (LINK)
- What caused the explosion? Why would the explosion on the surface of the platform create the situation in which crews are unable to stop the oil flow from the well’s head, which is nearly a mile deep? I understand that the oil rig sunk after a horrific fire, so I guess it’s possible that the sinking platform could have somehow irreparably damaged the pipeline at the floor of the Gulf, but it seems unlikely to me, with all the safety features on these rigs and wells. (LINK)
- One worker on the rig at the time of the explosion (10 PM on April 20th) reported that the lights on the platform went out just before the explosion. She was one of the 115 people who escaped the burning rig. Eleven others were not so fortunate; they remain missing and are presumed dead. (LINK)
- Coincidentally, (or was it?) the oil rig exploded on Hitler’s birthday, just in time to poison Earth Day 2010.
Reaction to the Explosion
- Obama (along with Department of Homeland Security) sent SWAT (“Special Weapons and Tactics”) teams to the Gulf to “inspect” the rigs and platforms. Why on earth would you deploy SWAT teams in response to an oil spill unless it was an act of terrorism, an act of war, or they if they were sent to carry out some sort of covert operation? (LINK)
- Wackenhut (aka G4S) has been hired by BP to block and/or arrest reporters who attempt to interview the workers in and around Grand Isle, LA. Wackenhut is a known CIA-front group (LINK) and also has ties to other “shadow government” agencies. Wackenhut’s private thugs are forcing the public off public beaches. (VIDEO)
- Yahoo! News’ Brett Michael Dykes reported that BP paid busloads of temporary cleanup workers to show up as “stage props” for Obama’s visit to the oil spill cleanup operations on Grand Isle. Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts (whose district encompasses Grand Isle) told Dykes that BP bused in “hundreds” of temporary workers to clean up local beaches. According to Roberts, “as soon as Obama was en route back to Washington, the workers were clearing out of Grand Isle too.” (LINK)
- A local Louisiana resident commented, “The cleanup crew was there for appearances only; their garbage bags were empty. When Obama left, they got on a bus and left, too.” (LINK)
- BP has admitted to buying Google and Yahoo keywords in an attempt to control publicly available information about this disaster. (LINK)
- The FAA has declared a “no-fly zone” in the Gulf. (LINK)
- There seems to be a complete cover up and news blackout of the events as they are unfolding. (LINK) (LINK)
- Obama has authorized the deployment of more than 17,000 National Guard members along the Gulf coast? (LINK) What exactly are these National Guard troops going to be doing? Are the troops going to be used to help stop the oil or to control the public? Could the government be preparing for mass evacuations? (LINK) (LINK)
- Obama is not using his authority to stop the damage in the Gulf, but is more concerned with passing the Cap-and-Trade bill, (LINK) which is based upon the global warming scam. (LINK) Did you notice that it’s no longer referred to as “global warming” but rather “climate change?” Have you ever wondered why? The truth of the matter is that since 1995, the earth has NOT been warming (LINK), so they had to rename the issue. Of course, it didn’t help them when over 31,000 scientists signed a petition rejecting global warming! (LINK)
- But the facts didn’t stop Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citigroup and the other Wall Street “behemoths” from buying heavily into global warming and carbon trading. You see, these companies that made billions off of derivatives and other scams and are now getting bailed out on your dime are going to make billions from the carbon trading scam.
- Why did Obama refuse the help of “thirteen entities that had offered the U.S. oil spill assistance within about two weeks of the Horizon rig explosion?” Was he more concerned about ramming through his environmental agenda? (LINK)
- This is classic Agenda 21 (aka “sustainable development”), a UN program spearheaded by George H.W. Bush at the Rio Conference, where he implemented this “de facto” US policy. (LINK) A few of the primary tools that Agenda 21 uses to implement control, steal private property, and further the eugenics agenda (VIDEO) are the global warming lies, man made water shortages, environmental disasters, and the Endangered Species Act. (LINK)
Oil, Gases, Chemicals & Dispersants
- Hydrogen sulfide, benzene, and methylene chloride and other toxic gases are also spewing out (along with the oil) in concentrations 1000 times greater than what the EPA considers to be “safe” for humans. Any one of these chemicals in these concentrations would be lethal. Mixed together into a toxic soup, the oil disaster is truly unthinkable and a medical and health disaster of unfathomable proportions. When the hurricanes come they will absorb this toxic seawater and drop it as “toxic rain.” (LINK)
- BP (with approval from the US government) has dumped hundreds of thousand of gallons of their toxic chemical dispersant, Corexit 9500, at their undersea wellhead and on surface waters. (LINK) Because it is so incredibly toxic (four times more toxic than the oil and twenty times more toxic than other dispersants), the UK has completely banned Corexit 9500, since it ruptures red blood cells, causes internal bleeding, and liver & kidney damage. If there were a major oil spill in the UK’s North Sea, BP would not be able to use it, (LINK) so why is BP being allowed to use Corexit 9500 in the Gulf of Mexico?
- Corexit 9500 is produced by Illinois-based Nalco Corporation. A search of Nalco’s Web site reveals the company history, which leads right to the doorstep of Goldman Sachs! (LINK) Yes, Goldman Sachs owns a controlling interest in Nalco (via Apollo Management). (LINK) If you dig a little deeper you will find Nalco is also associated with Warren Buffett, Maurice Strong, Al Gore, George Soros, and Hathaway Berkshire. (LINK) (LINK)
- The toxic chemicals have evaporated into the atmosphere and have condensed, falling on the plant life, farms, and the entire environment surrounding the Gulf of Mexico causing corrosive lesions on plants and killing birds. It’s raining chemicals in Louisiana & Mississippi. (VIDEO)
- The residents of southern Louisiana are now experiencing a “toxic Gulf” washing ashore. (VIDEO)
- The evidence is growing stronger and stronger that there is substantial damage beneath the sea floor. (LINK) (LINK)
- Why is Evergreen Air (a known CIA-front company) spraying Corexit chemtrails in the Gulf by the cover of night, literally dumping toxic chemicals on people’s homes? (LINK) (LINK) And please don’t be so naïve as to believe that the government wouldn’t allow harm to its own citizens. This is the same government that poisoned its own citizens during prohibition. (LINK) This is the same government that used US soldiers as guinea pigs for radiation experiments and mustard gas experiments. (LINK) This is the same government that used soldiers and civilians as “unknowing test subjects” for studying the effects of LSD on the brain. (LINK) And this is the same government that is currently allowing plastic, silicone, and petroleum to be included in McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. (LINK)
- Why are dolphins, sharks, other marine life, and various birds fleeing the Gulf? Remember the Tsunami in the Indian ocean a few years back? The animals fled first, while the clueless people stayed behind and got clobbered by the deadly wave. Could a similar event be brewing in the Gulf? All it takes is one hurricane to turn the entire region into a toxic stew of chemical poison. (LINK)
- Could the giant gas bubble and magma deposits which have been detected below the ocean floor result in a potential tsunami of biblical proportions? (VIDEO)
The First Amendment?
Shockingly, CNN reports that the US government has issued a new rule that would make it a felony crime for any journalist, reporter, blogger or photographer to approach any oil cleanup operation, equipment or vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. Anyone caught is subject to arrest, a $40,000 fine and prosecution for a federal felony crime. (LINK). Yes, this is happening right now in America. This isn’t a hoax. I know, it sounds more like something you might hear about in China or Venezuela or some other nation run by dictators. But now it’s happening in the USA. When those who seek truth are branded criminals by the government, it is only a matter of time before that government expands its criminalization labeling to include anyone who disagrees with it. (LINK)
These are the seeds of tyranny, and the criminal US government is planting them at your doorstep right now!!
And just so you don’t think I blame this whole mess on Obama, I want to make it clear that there is virtually no difference between a “Republicrat” US President and a “Demopublican” US President. The last real President we had was JFK and they killed him for speaking out against the “New World Order” and “Secret Societies.” Plus, he wanted to abolish the Fed and pull out of Vietnam. Three strikes and you’re OUT! Every US President since JFK has been nothing more than a puppet for the globalists.
I leave you with these 2 telling quotes:
“The individual is handicapped by coming face-to-face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists.” – J. Edgar Hoover
“If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.” – Samuel Adams
“Hau Mi Kola (Hello My Friends). The following missive which I am forwarding to you all, is nothing more than a mirror and this is for those that can think critically.”
The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak
[Note to TomDispatch Readers: This week, the website Foreign Policy In Focus, whose work I greatly admire and whose co-director John Feffer is a TomDispatch regular, will be using this piece to kick off its new strategic focus on empire. FPIF will be exploring the question of whether the Obama administration is likely to wind down our empire or will simply try to implement a somewhat kinder and gentler version of the same. Its weekly e-newsletter, World Beat, is particularly useful and can be subscribed to by clicking here. Tom]
The Imperial Unconscious
Afghan Faces, Predators, Reapers, Terrorist Stars, Roman Conquerors, Imperial Graveyards, and Other Oddities of the Truncated American Century By Tom Engelhardt
Sometimes, it’s the everyday things, the ones that fly below the radar, that matter.
Here, according to Bloomberg News, is part of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s recent testimony on the Afghan War before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
“U.S. goals in Afghanistan must be ‘modest, realistic,’ and ‘above all, there must be an Afghan face on this war,’ Gates said. ‘The Afghan people must believe this is their war and we are there to help them. If they think we are there for our own purposes, then we will go the way of every other foreign army that has been in Afghanistan.’”
Now, in our world, a statement like this seems so obvious, so reasonable as to be beyond comment. And yet, stop a moment and think about this part of it: “there must be an Afghan face on this war.” U.S. military and civilian officials used an equivalent phrase in 2005-2006 when things were going really, really wrong in Iraq. It was then commonplace — and no less unremarked upon — for them to urgently suggest that an “Iraqi face” be put on events there.
Evidently back in vogue for a different war, the phrase is revelatory — and oddly blunt. As an image, there’s really only one way to understand it (not that anyone here stops to do so). After all, what does it mean to “put a face” on something that assumedly already has a face? In this case, it has to mean putting an Afghan mask over what we know to be the actual “face” of the Afghan War — ours — a foreign face that men like Gates recognize, quite correctly, is not the one most Afghans want to see. It’s hardly surprising that the Secretary of Defense would pick up such a phrase, part of Washington’s everyday arsenal of words and images when it comes to geopolitics, power, and war.
And yet, make no mistake, this is Empire-speak, American-style. It’s the language — behind which lies a deeper structure of argument and thought — that is essential to Washington’s vision of itself as a planet-straddling goliath. Think of that “Afghan face”/mask, in fact, as part of the flotsam and jetsam that regularly bubbles up from the American imperial unconscious.
Of course, words create realities even though such language, in all its strangeness, essentially passes unnoticed here. Largely uncommented upon, it helps normalize American practices in the world, comfortably shielding us from certain global realities; but it also has the potential to blind us to those realities, which, in perilous times, can be dangerous indeed. So let’s consider just a few entries in what might be thought of as The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak.
War Hidden in Plain Sight: There has recently been much reporting on, and even some debate here about, the efficacy of the Obama administration’s decision to increase the intensity of CIA missile attacks from drone aircraft in what Washington, in a newly coined neologism reflecting a widening war, now calls “Af-Pak” — the Pashtun tribal borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Since August 2008, more than 30 such missile attacks have been launched on the Pakistani side of that border against suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban targets. The pace of attacks has actually risen since Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, as have casualties from the missile strikes, as well as popular outrage in Pakistan over the attacks.
Thanks to Senator Diane Feinstein, we also know that, despite strong official Pakistani government protests, someone official in that country is doing more than looking the other way while they occur. As the Senator revealed recently, at least some of the CIA’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) cruising the skies over Af-Pak are evidently stationed at Pakistani bases. We learned recently as well that American Special Operations units are now regularly making forays inside Pakistan “primarily to gather intelligence”; that a unit of 70 American Special Forces advisors, a “secret task force, overseen by the United States Central Command and Special Operations Command,” is now aiding and training Pakistani Army and Frontier Corps paramilitary troops, again inside Pakistan; and that, despite (or perhaps, in part, because of) these American efforts, the influence of the Pakistani Taliban is actually expanding, even as Pakistan threatens to melt down.
Mystifyingly enough, however, this Pakistani part of the American war in Afghanistan is still referred to in major U.S. papers as a “covert war.” As news about it pours out, who it’s being hidden from is one of those questions no one bothers to ask.
On February 20th, the New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti and David E. Sanger typically wrote:
“With two missile strikes over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency inside Pakistan, attacking a militant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government… Under standard policy for covert operations, the C.I.A. strikes inside Pakistan have not been publicly acknowledged either by the Obama administration or the Bush administration.”
On February 25th, Mazzetti and Helene Cooper reported that new CIA head Leon Panetta essentially bragged to reporters that “the agency’s campaign against militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas was the ‘most effective weapon’ the Obama administration had to combat Al Qaeda’s top leadership… Mr. Panetta stopped short of directly acknowledging the missile strikes, but he said that ‘operational efforts’ focusing on Qaeda leaders had been successful.” Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal reported the next day that Panetta said the attacks are “probably the most effective weapon we have to try to disrupt al Qaeda right now.” She added, “Mr. Obama and National Security Adviser James Jones have strongly endorsed their use, [Panetta] said.”
Uh, covert war? These “covert” “operational efforts” have been front-page news in the Pakistani press for months, they were part of the U.S. presidential campaign debates, and they certainly can’t be a secret for the Pashtuns in those border areas who must see drone aircraft overhead relatively regularly, or experience the missiles arriving in their neighborhoods.
In the U.S., “covert war” has long been a term for wars like the U.S.-backed Contra War against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 1980s, which were openly discussed, debated, and often lauded in this country. To a large extent, when aspects of these wars have actually been “covert” — that is, purposely hidden from anyone — it has been from the American public, not the enemies being warred upon. At the very least, however, such language, however threadbare, offers official Washington a kind of “plausible deniability” when it comes to thinking about what kind of an “American face” we present to the world.
Imperial Naming Practices: In our press, anonymous U.S. officials now point with pride to the increasing “precision” and “accuracy” of those drone missile attacks in taking out Taliban or al-Qaeda figures without (supposedly) taking out the tribespeople who live in the same villages or neighboring compounds. Such pieces lend our air war an almost sterile quality. They tend to emphasize the extraordinary lengths to which planners go to avoid “collateral damage.” To many Americans, it must then seem strange, even irrational, that perfectly non-fundamentalist Pakistanis should be quite so outraged about attacks aimed at the world’s worst terrorists.
On the other hand, consider for a moment the names of those drones now regularly in the skies over “Pashtunistan.” These are no less regularly published in our press to no comment at all. The most basic of the armed drones goes by the name of Predator, a moniker which might as well have come directly from those nightmarish sci-fi movies about an alien that feasts on humans. Undoubtedly, however, it was used in the way Col. Michael Steele of the 101st Airborne Division meant it when he exhorted his brigade deploying to Iraq (according to Thomas E. Ricks’ new book The Gamble) to remember: “You’re the predator.”
The Predator drone is armed with “only” two missiles. The more advanced drone, originally called the Predator B, now being deployed to the skies over Af-Pak, has been dubbed the Reaper — as in the Grim Reaper. Now, there’s only one thing such a “hunter-killer UAV” could be reaping, and you know just what that is: lives. It can be armed with up to 14 missiles (or four missiles and two 500-pound bombs), which means it packs quite a deadly wallop.
Oh, by the way, those missiles are named as well. They’re Hellfire missiles. So, if you want to consider the nature of this covert war in terms of names alone: Predators and Reapers are bringing down the fire from some satanic hell upon the peasants, fundamentalist guerrillas, and terrorists of the Af-Pak border regions.
In Washington, when the Af-Pak War is discussed, it’s in the bloodless, bureaucratic language of “global counterinsurgency” or “irregular warfare” (IW), of “soft power,” “hard power,” and “smart power.” But flying over the Pashtun wildlands is the blunt-edged face of predation and death, ready at a moment’s notice to deliver hellfire to those below.
Imperial Arguments: Let’s pursue this just a little further. Faced with rising numbers of civilian casualties from U.S. and NATO air strikes in Afghanistan and an increasingly outraged Afghan public, American officials tend to place the blame for most sky-borne “collateral damage” squarely on the Taliban. As Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen bluntly explained recently, “[T]he enemy hides behind civilians.” Hence, so this Empire-speak argument goes, dead civilians are actually the Taliban’s doing.
U.S. military and civilian spokespeople have long accused Taliban guerrillas of using civilians as “shields,” or even of purposely luring devastating air strikes down on Afghan wedding parties to create civilian casualties and so inflame the sensibilities of rural Afghanistan. This commonplace argument has two key features: a claim that they made us do it (kill civilians) and the implication that the Taliban fighters “hiding” among innocent villagers or wedding revelers are so many cowards, willing to put their fellow Pashtuns at risk rather than come out and fight like men — and, of course, given the firepower arrayed against them, die.
The U.S. media regularly records this argument without reflecting on it. In this country, in fact, the evil of combatants “hiding” among civilians seems so self-evident, especially given the larger evil of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, that no one thinks twice about it.
And yet like so much of Empire-speak on a one-way planet, this argument is distinctly uni-directional. What’s good for the guerrilla goose, so to speak, is inapplicable to the imperial gander. To illustrate, consider the American “pilots” flying those unmanned Predators and Reapers. We don’t know exactly where all of them are (other than not in the drones), but some are certainly at Nellis Air Force Base just outside Las Vegas.
In other words, were the Taliban guerrillas to leave the protection of those civilians and come out into the open, there would be no enemy to fight in the usual sense, not even a predatory one. The pilot firing that Hellfire missile into some Pakistani border village or compound is, after all, using the UAV’s cameras, including by next year a new system hair-raisingly dubbed “Gorgon Stare,” to locate his target and then, via console, as in a single-shooter video game, firing the missile, possibly from many thousands of miles away.
And yet nowhere in our world will you find anyone making the argument that those pilots are in “hiding” like so many cowards. Such a thought seems absurd to us, as it would if it were applied to the F-18 pilots taking off from aircraft carriers off the Afghan coast or the B-1 pilots flying out of unnamed Middle Eastern bases or the Indian Ocean island base of Diego Garcia. And yet, whatever those pilots may do in Afghan skies, unless they experience a mechanical malfunction, they are in no more danger than if they, too, were somewhere outside Las Vegas. In the last seven years, a few helicopters, but no planes, have gone down in Afghanistan.
When the Afghan mujahedeen fought the Soviets in the 1980s, the CIA supplied them with hand-held Stinger missiles, the most advanced surface-to-air missile in the U.S. arsenal, and they did indeed start knocking Soviet helicopters and planes out of the skies (which proved the beginning of the end for the Russians). The Afghan or Pakistani Taliban or al-Qaeda terrorists have no such capability today, which means, if you think about it, that what we here imagine as an “air war” involves none of the dangers we would normally associate with war. Looked at in another light, those missile strikes and bombings are really one-way acts of slaughter.
The Taliban’s tactics are, of course, the essence of guerrilla warfare, which always involves an asymmetrical battle against more powerful armies and weaponry, and which, if successful, always depends on the ability of the guerrilla to blend into the environment, natural and human, or, as Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong so famously put it, to “swim” in the “sea of the people.”
If you imagine your enemy simply using the villagers of Afghanistan as “shields” or “hiding” like so many cowards among them, you are speaking the language of imperial power but also blinding yourself (or the American public) to the actual realities of the war you’re fighting.
Imperial Jokes: In October 2008, Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, refused to renew the U.S. lease at Manta Air Base, one of at least 761 foreign bases, macro to micro, that the U.S. garrisons worldwide. Correa reportedly said: “We’ll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami — an Ecuadorean base. If there’s no problem having foreign soldiers on a country’s soil, surely they’ll let us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States.”
This qualifies as an anti-imperial joke. The “leftist” president of Ecuador was doing no more than tweaking the nose of goliath. An Ecuadorian base in Miami? Absurd. No one on the planet could take such a suggestion seriously.
On the other hand, when it comes to the U.S. having a major base in Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian land that not one in a million Americans has ever heard of, that’s no laughing matter. After all, Washington has been paying $20 million a year in direct rent for the use of that country’s Manas Air Base (and, as indirect rent, another $80 million has gone to various Kyrgyzstani programs). As late as last October, the Pentagon was planning to sink another $100 million into construction at Manas “to expand aircraft parking areas at the base and provide a ‘hot cargo pad’ — an area safe enough to load and unload hazardous and explosive cargo — to be located away from inhabited facilities.” That, however, was when things started to go wrong. Now, Kyrgyzstan’s parliament has voted to expel the U.S. from Manas within six months, a serious blow to our resupply efforts for the Afghan War. More outrageous yet to Washington, the Kyrgyzstanis seem to have done this at the bidding of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has the nerve to want to reestablish a Russian sphere of influence in what used to be the borderlands of the old Soviet Union.
Put in a nutshell, despite the crumbling U.S. economic situation and the rising costs of the Afghan War, we still act as if we live on a one-way planet. Some country demanding a base in the U.S.? That’s a joke or an insult, while the U.S. potentially gaining or losing a base almost anywhere on the planet may be an insult, but it’s never a laughing matter.
Imperial Thought: Recently, to justify those missile attacks in Pakistan, U.S. officials have been leaking details on the program’s “successes” to reporters. Anonymous officials have offered the “possibly wishful estimate” that the CIA “covert war” has led to the deaths (or capture) of 11 of al Qaeda’s top 20 commanders, including, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report, “Abu Layth al-Libi, whom U.S. officials described as ‘a rising star’ in the group.”
“Rising star” is such an American phrase, melding as it does imagined terror hierarchies with the lingo of celebrity tabloids. In fact, one problem with Empire-speak, and imperial thought more generally, is the way it prevents imperial officials from imagining a world not in their own image. So it’s not surprising that, despite their best efforts, they regularly conjure up their enemies as a warped version of themselves — hierarchical, overly reliant on leaders, and top heavy.
In the Vietnam era, for instance, American officials spent a remarkable amount of effort sending troops to search for, and planes to bomb, the border sanctuaries of Cambodia and Laos on a fruitless hunt for COSVN (the so-called Central Office for South Vietnam), the supposed nerve center of the communist enemy, aka “the bamboo Pentagon.” Of course, it wasn’t there to be found, except in Washington’s imperial imagination.
In the Af-Pak “theater,” we may be seeing a similar phenomenon. Underpinning the CIA killer-drone program is a belief that the key to combating al-Qaeda (and possibly the Taliban) is destroying its leadership one by one. As key Pakistani officials have tried to explain, the missile attacks, which have indeed killed some al-Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban figures (as well as whoever was in their vicinity), are distinctly counterproductive. The deaths of those figures in no way compensates for the outrage, the destabilization, the radicalization that the attacks engender in the region. They may, in fact, be functionally strengthening each of those movements.
What it’s hard for Washington to grasp is this: “decapitation,” to use another American imperial term, is not a particularly effective strategy with a decentralized guerrilla or terror organization. The fact is a headless guerrilla movement is nowhere near as brainless or helpless as a headless Washington would be.
Only recently, Eric Schmitt and Jane Perlez of the New York Times reported that, while top U.S. officials were exhibiting optimism about the effectiveness of the missile strikes, Pakistani officials were pointing to “ominous signs of Al Qaeda’s resilience” and suggesting “that Al Qaeda was replenishing killed fighters and midlevel leaders with less experienced but more hard-core militants, who are considered more dangerous because they have fewer allegiances to local Pakistani tribes… The Pakistani intelligence assessment found that Al Qaeda had adapted to the blows to its command structure by shifting ‘to conduct decentralized operations under small but well-organized regional groups’ within Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
Imperial Dreams and Nightmares: Americans have rarely liked to think of themselves as “imperial,” so what is it about Rome in these last years? First, the neocons, in the flush of seeming victory in 2002-2003 began to imagine the U.S. as a “new Rome” (or new British Empire), or as Charles Krauthammer wrote as early as February 2001 in Time Magazine, “America is no mere international citizen. It is the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome.”
All roads on this planet, they were then convinced, led ineluctably to Washington. Now, of course, they visibly don’t, and the imperial bragging about surpassing the Roman or British empires has long since faded away. When it comes to the Afghan War, in fact, those (resupply) “roads” seem to lead, embarrassingly enough, through Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, and Iran. But the comparison to conquering Rome evidently remains on the brain.
When, for instance, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post recently, drumming up support for the revised, age-of-Obama American mission in Afghanistan, he just couldn’t help starting off with an inspiring tale about the Romans and a small Italian city-state, Locri, that they conquered. As he tells it, the ruler the Romans installed in Locri, a rapacious fellow named Pleminius, proved a looter and a tyrant. And yet, Mullen assures us, the Locrians so believed in “the reputation for equanimity and fairness that Rome had built” that they sent a delegation to the Roman Senate, knowing they could get a hearing, and demanded restitution; and indeed, the tyrant was removed.
Admittedly, this seems a far-fetched analogy to the U.S. in Afghanistan (and don’t for a second mix up Pleminius, that rogue, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, even though the Obama-ites evidently now believe him corrupt and replaceable). Still, as Mullen sees it, the point is: “We don’t always get it right. But like the early Romans, we strive in the end to make it right. We strive to earn trust. And that makes all the difference.”
Mullen is, it seems, the Aesop of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and, in his somewhat overheated brain, we evidently remain the conquering (but just) “early” Romans — before, of course, the fatal rot set in.
And then there’s the Washington Post’s Thomas Ricks, a superb reporter who, in his latest book, gives voice to the views of Centcom Commander David Petraeus. Reflecting on Iraq, where he (like the general) believes we could still be fighting in “2015,” Ricks begins a recent Post piece this way:
“In October 2008, as I was finishing my latest book on the Iraq war, I visited the Roman Forum during a stop in Italy. I sat on a stone wall on the south side of the Capitoline Hill and studied the two triumphal arches at either end of the Forum, both commemorating Roman wars in the Middle East… The structures brought home a sad realization: It’s simply unrealistic to believe that the U.S. military will be able to pull out of the Middle East… It was a week when U.S. forces had engaged in combat in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan — a string of countries stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean — following in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, the Romans and the British.”
With the waning of British power, Ricks continues, it “has been the United States’ turn to take the lead there.” And our turn, as it happens, just isn’t over yet. Evidently that, at least, is the view from our imperial capital and from our military viceroys out on the peripheries.
Honestly, Freud would have loved these guys. They seem to channel the imperial unconscious. Take David Petraeus. For him, too, the duties and dangers of empire evidently weigh heavily on the brain. Like a number of key figures, civilian and military, he has lately begun to issue warnings about Afghanistan’s dangers. As the Washington Post reported, “[Petraeus] suggested that the odds of success were low, given that foreign military powers have historically met with defeat in Afghanistan. ‘Afghanistan has been known over the years as the graveyard of empires,’ he said. ‘We cannot take that history lightly.’”
Of course, he’s worrying about the graveyard aspect of this, but what I find curious — exactly because no one thinks it odd enough to comment on here — is the functional admission in the use of this old adage about Afghanistan that we fall into the category of empires, whether or not in search of a graveyard in which to die.
And he’s not alone in this. Secretary of Defense Gates put the matter similarly recently: “Without the support of the Afghan people, Gates said, the U.S. would simply ‘go the way of every other foreign army that’s ever been in Afghanistan.’”
Imperial Blindness: Think of the above as just a few prospective entries in The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak that will, of course, never be compiled. We’re so used to such language, so inured to it and to the thinking behind it, so used, in fact, to living on a one-way planet in which all roads lead to and from Washington, that it doesn’t seem like a language at all. It’s just part of the unexamined warp and woof of everyday life in a country that still believes it normal to garrison the planet, regularly fight wars halfway across the globe, find triumph or tragedy in the gain or loss of an air base in a country few Americans could locate on a map, and produce military manuals on counterinsurgency warfare the way a do-it-yourself furniture maker would produce instructions for constructing a cabinet from a kit.
We don’t find it strange to have 16 intelligence agencies, some devoted to listening in on, and spying on, the planet, or capable of running “covert wars” in tribal borderlands thousands of miles distant, or of flying unmanned drones over those same borderlands destroying those who come into camera view. We’re inured to the bizarreness of it all and of the language (and pretensions) that go with it.
If The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak were ever produced, who here would buy it? Who would feel the need to check out what seems like the only reasonable and self-evident language for describing the world? How else, after all, would we operate? How else would any American in a position of authority talk in Washington or Baghdad or Islamabad or Rome?
So it undoubtedly seemed to the Romans, too. And we know what finally happened to their empire and the language that went with it. Such a language plays its role in normalizing the running of an empire. It allows officials (and in our case the media as well) not to see what would be inconvenient to the smooth functioning of such an enormous undertaking. Embedded in its words and phrases is a fierce way of thinking (even if we don’t see it that way), as well as plausible deniability. And in the good times, its uses are obvious.
On the other hand, when the normal ways of empire cease to function well, that same language can suddenly work to blind the imperial custodians — which is, after all, what the foreign policy “team” of the Obama era is — to necessary realities. At a moment when it might be important to grasp what the “American face” in the mirror actually looks like, you can’t see it.
And sometimes what you can’t bring yourself to see can, as now, hurt you.
Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of the American Age of Denial. He also edited The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (Verso, 2008), a collection of some of the best pieces from his site and an alternative history of the mad Bush years.
[Note: In thinking about a prospective Dictionary of American Empire-Speak, I found four websites particularly useful for keeping me up to date: Juan Cole's invaluable Informed Comment (I don't know how he stays at day-in, day-out, year after year); Antiwar.com and the War in Context, where editors with sharp eyes for global developments seem to be on the prowl 24/7; and last but by no means least, Noah Shachtman's Danger Room blog at Wired.com. Focused on the latest military developments, from strategy and tactics to hunter-killer drones and "robo-beasts," Danger Room is not only a must-follow site, but gives an everyday sense of the imperial bizarreness of our American world. Finally, a deep bow of thanks to Christopher Holmes, who keeps the copyediting lights burning in Japan, and TomDispatch eternally chugging along.]
Copyright 2009 Tom Engelhardt
Joseph A. Lopisi
December 20, 2008
Mark my words. President Obama will follow in the footsteps of his predecessors by not holding his predecessor, George W. Bush and members of his administration, liable for violating the United States Constitution and criminally responsible for treason, 9/11, financial fraud, mass murder and war crimes.
Along the same lines as his predecessors, President Obama will deal with the current financial crisis by pointing his finger at everyone except the real culprit, the Federal Reserve Bank, the U.S. executive and legislative branches and their partners in crime, the Wall Street financial institutions.
The Federal Reserve Bank is a cartel of private banks with only one motive-profit. Presidents like Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson all knew about the all pervasive control that a private central bank has when it is permitted to print the money for the government and then lend it back to the government at interest. The end result of this scheme is that U.S. government is in debt to the Federal Reserve Bank and taxes our income in order to pay this debt. As a result, we all live our lives in debt. Being in debt is a form of slavery.
John F. Kennedy passed an Executive Order six months before his assassination. This Executive Order would allow the federal government to print money based on a silver standard. This order was the beginning of the end of the Federal Reserve Bank.
Mark my words, President Obama will be:
Just like Al Gore, who after fighting in Court against the 2000 election being stolen by computer fraud and voter suppression, capitulated on the floor of the United States Senate by stopping anyone from objecting to the Certification of the Florida electoral College vote.
Just like Clinton, who stopped any investigation of George H.W. Bush and his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair and his involvement in the assassination of JFK and the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. Now you see Clinton and Bush acting as if they are bosom buddies. That is because they are and always have been. Clinton was involved in allowing cocaine to be imported into a small airport in Arkansas when he was governor. George H. W. Bush was involved in the importation of this cocaine to fund the Iran-Contra affair and the secret government populated by CIA agents. Now that I think of it, the payback for Clinton allowing this was for him to be elected president.
Just like John Kerry who capitulated the day after the election knowing full well that Bush stole the election by voter suppression and computer fraud in many of the battleground states. Of course, he explained his concession in words that the everyday uninformed simplistic Americans would understand “I don’t want to seem like a sore loser”. Since when would you be considered a sore loser if you accused your opponent of cheating when you knew he had and when the evidence was clear that he did.
Just like Gerald Ford who struck a deal with Richard Nixon which called for his resignation instead of impeachment hearings. In this way, the real reason for the Watergate burglary would be kept secret and the complicit Congress would continue to look good. The real reason was that there was evidence, including photographic evidence, placing E. Howard Hunt in Dealey Square on the day JFK was killed. If you are too young to remember, E. Howard Hunt was one of the Watergate burglars. He recently died. Before he died, he made an audiotape in which he clearly states that JFK assassination was a conspiracy of the CIA including Lyndon Baines Johnson. Of course, the mainstream media did not pick up on this earth shattering news.
While we are on the topic of Gerald Ford and the complicit mainstream media, Gerald Ford, on his deathbed, admitted that the Warren commission lied in its placement of the “magic bullet” as it went through JFK’s shirt. If not for this lie, the “magic bullet” theory would fall apart and consequently the “lone gunman” explanation would not be plausible. Of course, the mainstream media did not report this earth shattering news either. Just like the mainstream media does not question the official 9/11 conspiracy theory despite the fact that it is obviously a lie, has numerous unexplained circumstances and does not in any way talk to why WTC 7 collapsed on its footprint in freefall time late in the day on September 11. Neither does the 9/11 commission investigate in any way whatsoever funding of the attack. Any criminal investigator knows that if you follow the trail of the money you will find the perpetrators.
Just like Obama who will not investigate Bush and/or Cheney for all of the felonies, war crimes, financial fraud, treason including the planning and orchestration of 9/11. He will just chalk it up to “moving on for the good of the country”.
The good of the country requires the investigation and prosecution of all of these criminals starting with George H.W. Bush and moving forward.
Joseph A. Lopisi is an attorney, member of the Coalition against Election Fraud and a cofounder of the Massachusetts 9/11 Truth Group. He is the webmaster of www.911insidejob.net. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org