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samedi, 07 janvier 2017

America’s Lynch Mob ‘Democracy’

It is the effete, self-regarding ruling US elite who are acting like a murderous rabble. The hate-figures are Russian leader Vladimir Putin and incoming president Donald Trump. Both are being lined up to be lynched, one as a foreign enemy, the other as a traitor.

Lynch mob blood-lust is a mere finger pointed, the baying of deranged crowds and the stringing up of some unfortunate from the nearest tree without pause for a fair trial. «Guilty!» shouted with red-faced thunder is all that’s needed. And anyone who dares to question the madding crowd is liable to meet the same grim fate.

Public opinion in the US is being stampeded to accept as unquestioned fact that Russia «attacked American democracy» as Senators like John McCain are claiming on prime time television. Furthermore, Russian President Vladimir Putin is accused of being the mastermind behind the alleged cyber attacks, which supposedly subverted the US presidential election in favor of Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Incumbent President Barack Obama, the US «intelligence community» and a consensus of lawmakers on Capitol Hill are all asserting without a flicker of doubt that Russian state-sponsored hackers interfered in the November election. The US mainstream media have abdicated any pretense of independence or journalistic standard by rowing in behind the assertions, stating what are fundamentally tendentious claims as if they are fact. The word «alleged» before the words «Russian hacking» has been shorn from headlines and commentaries. The American lynch mob has decreed Russia as guilty. No due process, no skepticism, no verifiable proof, just stampeding group-think let loose.

Never mind that Moscow has repeatedly rejected the vapid claims, and has demanded verifiable evidence to be presented. Never mind that Washington has failed to provide any verifiable evidence to support its accusations. Never mind that several respected former US intelligence experts, such as William Binney formerly of the NSA, have come forward to dismiss the claims of Russian hacking as preposterous.

The inherent lack of credibility in Washington’s narrative was given a seeming fix when Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats last week. The intention of the sanctions was to brand the word «scumbag» over the Kremlin in the eyes of the world, a US cyber security expert told Reuters. This is more of the same demonization-mentality that resulted in African-Americans being dangled from branches or suspected sorcerers being torched alive by self-righteous American christians.

A second seeming fix to the attenuated «Russian hacker» story came with reports of an alleged attempt to disable the US power grid. The CIA-linked Washington Post broke the story of an electric company in Vermont finding «Russian malware» on a laptop. The report can be quickly parsed as fake, but it seemingly gave substance to claims that the US was «under attack from Russia». Right on cue.

Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to be baited by Obama’s expulsion of diplomats by declining to reciprocate similar measures against US officials in Moscow. Wisely too. For such a response would tend to only lend credibility to what are otherwise baseless American claims.

More insanity to back up Russophobia is expected this week when shadowy «US intelligence officials» give «briefings» to President-elect Trump and members of Congress. The latter will inevitably be «wowed» by more of the same anti-Russian claims that the CIA has already inculcated the American mass media with.

Trump, however, is not such an easy pushover. He appears to remain skeptical about «intelligence» impugning Russia. Trump previously lampooned CIA claims as «ridiculous». Again this week he referred to the «disaster of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction» when false US intelligence led to a decade-long war in the Middle East country, the death of over a million people and the unleashing of jihadist terrorism across the globe.

To browbeat Trump into joining the lynch mob to hang Putin and Russia, the US media are blatantly setting him as a «traitor» if he doesn’t comply.

Referring to his forthcoming presidential inauguration, the New York Times editorial board demanded: «In less than a month, Mr Trump will have to decide whether he stands with his democratic allies on Capitol Hill or his authoritarian friend in the Kremlin».

The editors at the Washington Post continued the treason theme, making the reckless claim that Russia had perpetrated a «Cyber Pearl Harbor» on the US. The newspaper then went on to note Trump’s «odd behavior in the face of a clear threat from Russia». The Post insinuated that Trump was putting alleged personal business interests with Russia ahead of patriotic duty.

Another report in the New York Times quoted various pundits claiming that Trump is undermining national security by being friendly towards Russia and expressing his skepticism towards US intelligence.

One senior lawmaker, Democrat Representative Adam Schiff called on Trump «to stop denigrating» US secret services.

Moreover, if veteran Republican Senator John McCain is allowed to assert on CNN that Russian cyber attacks are an «act of war» – then, it follows according to this warped logic, that Trump is in bed with the enemy.

This embodies lynch mob rule rolled into burning witches at Salem along with McCarthyite Red Scaremongering.

Trump is effectively being noosed with claims that he is a Russian stooge and a traitor to his country. Claims that are in turn based on unfounded, hysterical allegations that Russia has «attacked our nation». All that’s missing here are effigies of Putin and Trump being set alight on Capitol Hill.

What this represents is a profound degeneration in American democracy. Rumor, speculation and propaganda have become the currency of US public discourse, ranging from the supposedly highest office of the White House to the legislative branch of government – and all reinforced by a supine media.

Anyone who shows the slightest dissent from the stampeding mentality to lynch Russia is also liable to be lynched. The fate of Donald Trump is in the balance.

The irony in all this is that it is not some external enemy who is eroding American democracy. It is own’s political establishment that is throttling the supposed pillars of democracy.

Whenever two of its purported leading newspapers are openly accusing the next president of «treason» – based on fabricated accusations – then it is a clear sign that American democracy has indeed become condemned.

jeudi, 26 février 2015

The Wreckage of American Democracy

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The Wreckage of American Democracy

The Logic of the Imperial Security State

by LUCIANA BOHNE
Ex: http://www.counterpunch.org

What to think of a policy that bombs countries and leaves them to their fate? Most observers of US foreign policy since 2001 regard this policy as a failure. They look upon the ruins of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and see no victory parade, no reconstruction, no stable government, no democracy, and no human rights. These are observers whose mindset is stuck in models of the past. They may have in mind WW II, a declared war, battles, victory, negotiations, treaties, and reconstruction. Say, Europe and the Marshall Plan or Japan. They may be thinking of a world order ruled by international law, Geneva Conventions, the United Nations, and of America as safeguarding this order. Consequently the disorder that the United States is sowing across the planet makes no sense. The politicos on the Potomac must be crazy—is the conclusion.

No such thing. They may be megalomaniacs, but they have a plan for precisely disorder, no less a plan than to subdue the world to its economic will militarily. America is slipping from its rank as the #1 economy in the world, a record held since the 1870s. History instructs that it is impossible to maintain a global empire without economic primacy. The American empire has its back to the wall, but it still has military supremacy, after the exit of its main challenger, the USSR, the greatest tragedy to relative peace in the world of our era. The world really did change on 11 September 2001. It gave America the excuse to choose the military option to keep dominating the world, which it could no longer do economically. The United States, too, took the opportunity to effect a silent coup at home, starting with the Patriot Act, and moving gradually forward to change the US from a democracy to a security state and to destroy, unopposed by a frightened domestic population, pieces of the world, one inconvenient country at a time. It’s a way of doing WW III without anybody but the victims noticing.

Failure? Look at Iraq, the epitome of a cancer cell eating the vital organs of the body, producing pain and suffering as it dies. But do, too, look at Iraq’s border with Iran and see that it is dotted with US military bases. Afghanistan? Permanent and indefinite US military occupation, clothed as a security agreement between Washington and Kabul, squeezing Iran on its eastern border. Libya? The removal of Muanmar Qaddafi in 2011 has left the whole continent bereft of protection from neo-colonial penetration. Since then, we’ve had the French invasion of Mali. Since the fall of Qaddafi, Libya’s North-African coast has become a gigantic refugee port, where thousands of desperate people gather chaotically to flee war and famine to reach Italy, 200 miles away, in inflatable boats. According to the United Nations, 90% of those fleeing Libya land in Italy. Only a few weeks ago 300 of these refugees drowned off the coast of Lampedusa, the volcanic island north of Sicily. According to Amnesty International’s latest report, 37,000 refugees are waiting to brave the sea to reach the shores of Europe. Two governments, two parliaments, and two armies currently rule Libya. Both vie for power and for control of the oil fields on the Gulf of Sirte. Islamist militia rule in Tripoli; a government recognized by the international “community” rules in Tobruk. In this institutional vacuum, the IS are moving in. They are in Derna, applying the whip to young men known to have imbibed alcohol. Perhaps in two months, IS will control the Libyan coast. The US is not stopping them.

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Libya, in fact, provides the example, as good as any, of the logic of American imperial policy. After the bombing and the grotesque spectacle of the leader’s assassination, chaos ensues. Then, the “terrorists” move in to mop up the territory. Is there anyone sentient who still believes that the “terrorists” are the enemies of the empire? Is there anyone who still doesn’t see that the “terrorists” are the equivalent of the einsatzgruppen of the Hitlerite SS? With their sadistic theatre of public and grotesque terror, they provide the empire with reasons for intensifying interventions (Iraq) and renewing bombing campaigns for regime change (Syria). Moreover, the supposed advance of the “terrorist threat” serves to bind the empire’s vassals together in a common goal in the supposed struggle against terrorism– to “tighten security” at home and “to internationalize” foreign policy abroad. In reality, to get with the empire’s long-term goal of world domination.

Italy currently provides a good example of this vassalage to the empire’s goal. With the advance of IS in Libya, feudatory Italy prepares “to internationalize” a response to this perceived threat. To this end, it raises the specter of the black flag of IS flying on top of St. Peter’s. Italian Foreign Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, alerted viewers recently on SkyTg24 that Italy is threatened by the alarming situation in Libya, failing to note that the crisis is the result of Italy’s participation in the coup in Libya. Gentiloni warned that if mediation fails to produce results in reconciling the warring parties in Libya it is necessary “to do something more. . . . Italy is prepared to fight in a scenario of international legality.”

The “war on terror” was a brilliant propaganda idea. It created a state of exception to democratic order throughout the West, one that facilitated a craven and unquestioned transition from constitutional democracies to control states. In the US, the Patriot Act inaugurated this control state, which politologists like to call a “security state” to avoid calling it a police state, in which every citizen is regarded as a potential terrorist. The function of this type of state is not to promote order but to manage the disorder that it produces. On the world stage, terrorism is used as the instrument for creating the disorder that the world’s policeman—the United States—and its “allies” are called to manage.

Unquestionably, America is a basket case–and should be hospitalized in one of history’s asylums for states with Napoleonic delusions—but not because of its failures but because of its successes in achieving their ends: they make a wreckage of democracy and call it security; they terrorize the world one country at a time and call it . . . what? Anti-terrorism. They create the effect and call it the cause.

Is this a failure? In moral terms, yes. In imperial-policy terms, no.

Luciana Bohne is co-founder of Film Criticism, a journal of cinema studies, and teaches at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. She can be reached at: lbohne@edinboro.edu