Another thank you again to Mohamed Zeehan for his continued contributions to Gonzo Times.
By Mohamed Zeehan
As the world debates the crisis in Syria and the future of the Middle East, one country that has been rather conspicuous by its stony silence is India. Apart from the very clichéd “we want a peaceful solution” statement made by the Foreign Office, the world’s largest democracy has kept itself away from democratic movements around the world.
India’s track record on burning international issues has been dodgy, albeit that a true transparent discussion on foreign policy is relatively new to the country. In the 1950s, Prime Minister Nehru took on the double charge of external affairs, seeing few alternatives to himself. In essence, few political leaders and analysts have had much interest in international affairs given the amount of adrenaline-pumping action that goes on in the domestic arena everyday. But with India’s exploding economic growth came a sudden importance on the global high table. The world expects a lot more today from its third largest economy
India’s legacy is fantastic – a democracy like none other, founded on the soundest and noblest of principles by the greatest individuals in history. But does the world really listen to it? After voting against Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council only last year, India finds that Colombo has done precious little to respect its words. Early this year, a couple of Italian marines undergoing investigation for allegedly killing a Keralite fisherman off the south western coast decided to stay back in Rome despite Supreme Court rulings in Delhi. The crisis was later resolved, but not before much embarrassment to the Indian Foreign Office. Elsewhere, down in little Maldives, after an embarrassing episode that saw former President Mohammed Nasheed barge into the Indian High Commission in Male, India failed to prevent his imprisonment just days after he walked out! However, time played a great healer and eventually, Mohammed Nasheed won the subsequent elections. Despite the victory, Nasheed continues to seem rather miffed at India for its apparent betrayal and it remains to be seen if the Maldivian President will continue to trust India.
The great trouble with India’s foreign policy is its unpredictability (some prefer using the term “inconsistency”). When Myanmar’s Nobel Peace laureate and democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi visited New Delhi last year, she made no secrets of her disappointment in India’s engagement with her country’s military junta - ”I was saddened to feel that we had drawn away from India, or rather that India had drawn away from us, during our very difficult days.” India’s policy in Myanmar was always subject to much debate. After Nehru forged ties with General Suu Kyi, few expected his military to turn oppressive enough to suppress the General’s own daughter. Although India initially supported the Myanmar democratic movement in line with its own founding principles, a dilemma came up after Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest and the military junta seemed to have won the game. New Delhi failed to keep its stance going and feared fighting a losing battle. With the hope of retaining some political stability in Rangoon, it decided to engage with the military junta – much to the dismay of Suu Kyi and her supporters.
India’s failure in framing an unambiguous foreign policy and sticking to it in a volatile neighborhood has seen its credibility being questioned by various critical analysts around the world, making its life harder on the global high table. Its policy of trying to be friends with one and all has often betrayed it. As a result, every time the world faces a hard question and looks at India for an answer, it has been apprehensive and Dr. Singh’s government susceptible to political pressure from its regional allies. Also, uniquely in India, the vast diversity in political ideology has thrown up doubts of a radical change in policy every time a new coalition takes over. The discontinuity has further made India’s foreign policy unpredictable.
Despite the troubles with non-alignment, New Delhi has had little choice in the matter of foreign policy. Being in a volatile neighborhood as it does, every stand on foreign policy has a direct bearing on national security and stern-faced stances on sensitive issues can backfire. That notwithstanding, with its current economic situation in view, New Delhi has had no time to devote to the maintenance of world peace. It is reluctant to ally with any nation in the world, lest it loses the space it needs on the global high table.
Like any other policy in the country, Indian foreign policy is one undergoing tremendous evolution and it will take time for India to settle into a more coherent and concrete foreign policy. The good thing is that the world still trusts India. Question is if it will remain patient with it.
Now that the Syrian psychodrama is “over” (there is still the possibility that the US could strike if Syria is seen as not giving over their chemical weapons), Obama supporters are acting like this bizarre episode is his win. His administration was pushing for a war – if it hadn’t been for Russia and Syria responding to John Kerry’s statement that peace could occur if weapons were handed over (combined with 9% o the population supporting a war and little support from the United Nations or allies), they would have had it. Most people are spent after George W. Bush’s wars and Barack Obama’s looked far from more appetizing.
Obama didn’t win. What he wanted was insane – he wanted to strike Syria in favor of the rebels there and in order to harm the regime of Bashir Assad, a man whose secular regime is more than likely keeping the place from becoming another Afghanistan. If the War On Terror at first seemed like a war to defeat religious extremism and oppression (that’s what writers like Christopher Hitchens thought it was), God only knows what it is now. As a friend said when I was discussing this, “Now that we are funding Al Qaeda, I don’t know what to make of this crap. It’s like all one convoluted mess of lies.”
The Syrian rebels who would take over without Assad are Al Qaeda (you know – the group that did 9/11). The US already has taken their side – arming them with weapons. U.S. involvement wasn’t simply discussed, which some people seem to think is the case, it has already happened. There is video of the atrocities of the people we are supporting in Syria – stuff like this (fair WARNING for content):
Whoever the next president of this country is, Republican, Democrat or maybe even, hopefully, something new, I really hope they stop these wars. Try to focus oil consumption toward other parts of the world – Australia, Mexico, somewhere else, whatever it takes. This country has been doing this for thirty years and it has not made the world a better place.
It’s really important to remember what the Obama administration was trying to do and what they were playing around with. Videos like this one, made at the beginning of September, portray pretty well what the situation was before it was resolved and where it could have led:
When PJC started this website, one of the issues he focused on alot was police brutality. Him and I are very different people but that will certainly not change as I continue this site.
An unarmed man who may have been looking for help after a vehicle wreck was shot and killed by a police officer Saturday as he ran toward him, police said. The officer was later charged with voluntary manslaughter.
The statement said officers approached Ferrell to investigate the original call. Ferrell ran toward the officers and was hit with a Taser. Ferrell continued to run toward police when Officer Randall Kerrick fired his weapon, hitting Ferrell several times. Ferrell was pronounced dead at the scene.
Of course, after they murder the man, it becomes clear he was “looking for help” but the guy is dead. These people are supposed to protect and serve. Then take this one:
MOBILE, Ala. — A nude University of South Alabama freshman had taken LSD and assaulted others before he chased the campus police officer who fatally shot him, authorities said Tuesday, though the student wasn’t armed and didn’t touch the officer.
Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran said at a news conference that 18-year-old Gil Collar took the potent hallucinogen during a music festival Saturday before assaulting two people in vehicles and attempting to bite a woman’s arm.
Neither of these individuals touched police or did anything besides behave erratic. The police should be trained to deal with erratic people without murdering them.
Why all of these incidents? Is it the guns they own? Drugs? Corruption? Racism? It could be a number of things but what sticks out the most is that the police are by far the most undemocratic institution in our country. Councilmen, mayors, senators, governors, congressmen and presidents all are elected – the police, on the other hand, are not elected at all. Their taxpayer subsidy is near endless – few politicians would ever vote to defund the police. When a law enforcement officer messes up and breaks the law, it’s up to law enforcement to take care of the problem. There are no checks and balances.
That doesn’t mean that they are infallible – the murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland in 2009 led to tasers, which BART police officer Johannes Mehserles claims he thought he was grabbing when he shot Grant, being made in a different color so as not to be mistaken for a gun. Mehserles did go to prison for manslaughter for two years. For some reason, cases in which the people killed or doing the killing are different ethnicities gets more news and police brutality is associated with the black population or the inner city – I think that average Americans would really wake up if they realized that police brutality is present and constant simply wherever police are. It’s still a very undemocratic institution – the police are supposed to serve us but operate on their own rules and code. These unchecked individuals are loaded with deadly weaponry and assigned to work in high stress situations with high stress pressure.
If the military seems particularly brutal, there might be an explanation for that. The website Truthout, which is an independent progressive website, is publishing a book called Rise of the Warrior Cop - which documents how police have started to resemble soldiers more and more due to the ramp up in military spending since 9/11. I personally haven’t read the book so I will hold out judgment but that thesis certainly does seem to match reality. This country has been at war for twelve years now – focusing so much of both our military and law enforcement on terrorism may have, even if not intentionally, turned law enforcement in to soldiers.
This story may be a bit on the late side – I’ve had this idea in my mind since the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s Lincoln Memorial speech occurred. I simply didn’t know how to articulate it.
Right after the commemorative speeches occurred, with Barack Obama leading with nothing but Democratic speakers (Republicans apparently had better things to do), Fox News host Bill O’Reilly took to the airwaves to say that, if he were alive today, Martin Luther King surely would have been a conservative Republican:
It is very dishonest for a pretty solid right wing pundit like Bill O’Reilly to say that Martin Luther King would have been on his side on most issues. It’s bizarre in fact. There are several quotes attributed to MLK in which he denounces his 1964 Republican Convention for boiling in race baiting – that convention nominated Barry Goldwater for presidential candidate. Daily Kos covers this well.
Politics in this country has changed in the last 50 years but at the same time not changed. Barry Goldwater is alot like Rand Paul and his father, Ron – like Rand, he seemed to oppose the Civil Rights Act on some sort of ideological grounds. Goldwater spent years immersed in and advocating for Native American culture – not an activity that would usually be attributed to a really racist individual. Libertarians of his stripe, having been one, are often known to simplify things and Goldwater may have, like Ron and Rand Paul, simply have not taken seriously the power of prejudice. There are two classes of dismissal of racism, in my experience, and that is people who are seriously prejudiced and people whose experience has largely clouded them to not really take prejudice seriously. George Wallace and Donald Trump are in the former while Rand Paul and Barry Goldwater are in the latter.
While the idea of Martin Luther King as a right winger is preposterous, it is also unlikely that he would an unthinking steward of Barack Obama. The fact that a black man was elected president of the United States undoubtedly would have stirred him but it is critical to remember a few things more about him. King was murdered before Nixon ever became president – it was a Democrat, Lyndon Johnson, who intensified the Vietnam War. If King had been a royal liberal, he wouldn’t have openly spoke out against an administration that had just given the country the Civil Rights Act and Medicare – as he did. King’s classic opposition to the Vietnam war was an act of bravery and admirable independence – he was standing on his own and not on the side of any political party.
How MLK would have felt or thought on abortion is anyone’s guess. King was a pastor but on the other hand, he had numerous affairs – most of the websites that talk about the issue are pretty biased. He most likely would have been to the left on immigration issues.
There are a handful of congressman that I think MLK would campaign for, if he were ever to do such a thing – Alan Grayson, Jim McDermott, Dennis Kucinich. MLK wasn’t a politician – he never ran for office. If he had been still active through the Bush and Obama years, he certainly would have worked with George W. Bush on No Child Left Behind or Barack Obama in health care reform but he certainly would have opposed the invasion of Iraq or intervention in Syria. His working with three presidents of both parties during his lifetime but also criticizing their foreign policies shows that he may also have taken a stand against torture or secret prisons during Bush or the use of unmanned drones under Obama. He surely would have opposed to the expansion of NSA spying during both presidencies, seeing as he had been subjected to it himself.
(It was actually communism that was the big enemy back in MLK’s day – I imagine he would have more than a little bit to say about the endless engagement this country has had with the Middle East, which he only saw the very beginning of in his lifetime.)
His success and philosophical impact is so important because he never reduced himself to some political ideology. He stood up for what was obviously good and right – civil rights – and stood against what was not – forcing ourselves in to foreign civil wars at a cost to our own people and our finances.
It is very dishonest for Bill O’Reilly to think he would stand with the Tea Party and the modern right wing but also strange to think he would be an unwavering supporter of Barack Obama either because of political party or skin color. He was far more independent of a person than that. If we want to look for future MLKs, it will be in people with an independent spirit and not politicians that we will find him.
Back in 2003, I was present at several anti-war protests in Seattle – there were quite a few. Bush was about to invade Iraq and the opposition was at a fever pitch. I was a fan of most of the songs that came out during that period in opposition – everyone from Beastie Boys to Pharoahe Monch pitched in.
Pharoahe is a favorite of this website and his lyrics literally inspired the sister website Blood Is One‘s title itself. It’s about ten years and we seemed to have dodged a bullet from our current president launching a war like his predecessor had – neither of them are bad men but the tendency to want to “push the button” in that position of power seems a little too great for anyone of any stripe to resist.
Pharoahe is an Obama supporter, from his lyrics, but his music hasn’t failed to continue to be politically provocative and illuminating because the current president is preferable to the previous. “Agent Orange,” released on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, was a taste of the fusionist sound that he continued with albums like Desire and W.A.R. – the talk of weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons and the title itself, Agent Orange, eludes to one of the many times this country itself has used chemical weapons on developing countries.
Also worth watching is Pharoahe’s song “When The Gun Draws” – the song was actually produced by Mr. Porter – part of Eminem’s rap group D12 – which is a little interesting and, yes, contradictory given that that rap group lost a member, Proof, to gun violence and has glorified gun violence quite a bit in their music. It is what it is. Be careful when you post it for friends – I started a pretty heated gun control debate when I posted this song at a politics group in 2007, when the song was released on Pharoahe’s album Desire.
There’s a pretty good word that came around during this entire Syria episode – psychodrama. While echoing the Iraq war in the manner by which John Kerry sold the war publicly, in the end, when diplomatic goals had been achieved, this whole Syria episode resembled something else entirely – the Cuban missile crisis.
During effective presidential administrations of whatever party, war seems to be treated like a hot potato – it’s there, it’s dangerous but getting burned is not inevitable. If you handle it properly, you end up avoiding disaster. These hot potatoes require special handling – It was a bold move during the Kennedy administration when the Soviet Union placed nuclear weapons on the island of Cuba, an island only one hundred miles from Florida and it took political genius to keep hell from opening up.
In the documentary Fog of War, which I watched for a Political Science course in college, Robert MacNamara, who was Secretary of Defense under Kennedy, talks about the missile crisis as well as Vietnam bluntly. The movie was made decades after Kennedy and then Lyndon Johnson. MacNamara had escaped the poison of Washington D.C. and was able to see how horrible what he did with Vietnam was and with the missile crisis, put his fingers together and said “We were that close” to causing a nuclear war. The military industrial complex was in full swing during the Kennedy administration, as it is now, but at least during Kennedy (LBJ didn’t really mind bombing developing countries as much as Kennedy, who famously said that man needs to stop warring if it is to survive) there was an effort to avoid conflict.
Our current Secretary of State tried to sell a war – as satirized by Jon Stewart, the road out of war – Syria giving up chemical weapons – was annotated with Kerry saying “that will never happen.” It did happen. War didn’t happen and Syria offered up its chemical weapons, with Russia playing steward. It was hard not to see America as the aggressor and beyond that, a country that was either insane, corrupt, being played or some mix of the three. Barack Obama wanted us to intervene against a stable, secular regime in Syria and make it easier for rebels – rebels allied with Al Qaeda and who literally eat people on YouTube videos – to take over that country. Obama’s policy toward Syria would have been everything Putin called it in his editorial – it would have broken international order, destroyed our relationship with Russia, made Syria a launchpad for terrorists and spent even more money that could go toward resources here at home on death abroad. That people supported the policy at all is bizarre.
The Cold War and Soviet communism dawned a whole bunch of democratic socialist or libertarian philosophers from George Orwell to Ayn Rand who told us what was wrong with the Soviet Union – that moral authority is long gone – as noted by the lack of support from other countries in a military strike on Syria and the extreme unpopularity by Americans on the same subject. The psychodrama played out again but the winners, this time, weren’t the United States.
Russian President Vladimir Putin published an editorial in the New York Times that took on the United States’ policy towards Syria and also took on a concept held dear by many Americans – “American exceptionalism.” It was a ballsy statement ended at the end of his op-ed, with sentiments that most leaders in the world would dare only to say in private:
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
The uproar that Vladimir Putin’s editorial caused shouldn’t be too surprising. The reactions, which you can watch in this Young Turks video, were raw and emotional – “Joseph Stalin is smiling” or “it made me want to vomit” negated the actual substance of the article.
Many people in this country live with alot of illusions – they elude the reality that their country is an empire, that it is hated throughout the world and that its policies have led to major structural decay. America is a living projection of the old adage that “the emperor has no clothes” – while, under both Bush and Obama, our presidents have invaded or launched missiles at developing countries we have seen repeated failings of the infrastructure in the United States such as the breech of the levees in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina, the collapse of I-50, a well used bridge in Washington state and the I-35 Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis. While the U.S. government builds ever more weapons, it fails to advance or repair basic infrastructure or services for its own people.
Despite a widespread increase in law enforcement and domestic spying under both presidents Bush and Obama, we have seen a rash of mass shootings that were unique to this country in their brutality and randomness. None of these tragedies were stopped and in the aftermath of the Boston bombings particularly, the American government simply looked reactive and disorganized. Most countries experience stuff like the Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech or Aurora massacres only when their society is at war. Alot of coverage has been made of Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on gays in his country, which is obviously unwarranted, but in researching for this article, it was genuinely hard to find as many episodes of random violence in Russia as we experience here.
Nevertheless, as other countries may look at us and wonder why we are so violent (One friend in Brazil called me up recently, saying she really liked Obama in 2008 but now asked “Why does he want to bomb Syria? He will shoot missiles at people. It’s horrible!”), we are apparently not self-aware at all. The idea of “American exceptionalism” permeates this thinking. Many Americans simply think they are superior to the rest of the world and, as Putin pointed out in his op-ed piece, that attitude of being above everyone else and above the rules drives episodes like Iraq or Syria – in which this country’s leaders believe they are entitled to use force on others and going through the proper channels internationally (even the proper channels in our own country – as Obama’s administration was totally prepared to bomb Syria without public or Congressional support). By taking on “American exceptionalism,” Putin fired a slingshot at an already badly wounded American goliath – Americans have seen most of their illusions crippled in the years following 9/11 – exceptionalism itself is the foundation of all of those illusions.
To people who were offended by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s article – What is that makes America “exceptional?” Is it legalizing torture, something America is exceptional in maintaining despite most developed countries adhering to the Geneva Convention? Is it launching a military assault every 40 months since World War II, something no other country has come close to doing? Is it having caused the deaths of over 100,000 civilians during the Iraq war? These things could certainly be seen as exceptional.
In Russia is a country that developed politically as an adversary of the United States. Even if it has been more of an ally since the USSR fell apart, there is still a “Cold War mentality” among many Russian leaders, reportedly. This may be why Vladimir Putin feels the courage to say what he said in that editorial. The leaders of the United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico, Australia or other significant countries would not feel the courage to say what many of them actually think and feel about the United States. However, in action and not word, the United States is rejected – Barack Obama failed to get even a fraction of the support for action against Syria that George W. Bush got for Iraq. The vote for action against by the British parliament was the first time in history that proposed military action had been rejected.
The United States is not exceptional. It’s not special. It is just another face among other faces in this world and its little temper tantrums will often makes its social and economic decline harder because no one will want to give a big bully a helping hand.
By Mohamed Zeeshan
US President Barack Obama recently moved the Congress to authorize his proposed plan of action in Syria and the future there seems rather uncertain. But while the world ponders over the now well-escalated and seemingly unsolvable crisis in Syria, let’s move away from the Middle East to yet another restive region, not too far away – in Afghanistan.
Where does India now take its Afghan adventure?
Before answering that question, let’s first understand Afghanistan. The country, as is well known, is impoverished and hungry after being ravaged by a decades-old conflict. Added to that is the fact that democracy is in its infancy stage and if Afghanistan were to become a true democracy in the midst of Islamist terror, it would create history as the first ever nation to do so. The Islamists meanwhile will do all that is in their power to stop this from happening, and with the NATO troops scheduled to leave shortly, will also have the requisite space to do it. The Pakistan Mujahideen, who are spreading like wildfire today, too will have an added interest in helping the Islamists recapture Afghanistan for the obvious reasons of their natural opposition to liberalism and democracy. And if the Islamists, along with the Mujahideen do indeed succeed in their mission, far-reaching catastrophes will consequently play out. In neighboring Pakistan, the rejuvenation of democracy in the form of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government would be challenged as the Mujahideen-Islamist nexus of Afghanistan looks to unsettle him. That apart, of course, if the Islamists do succeed in Afghanistan, world terror would thrive, the Arab Spring would get more bloody and Afghanistan itself will likely slip into yet another civil war.
All this brings responsibilities on the shoulders of New Delhi, the regional power and the mature democracy. New Delhi’s challenge will lie in helping democracy establish itself firmly in Afghanistan. That would require India to help develop the lives of the Afghan people, by providing them with education, infrastructure and employment opportunities. The greatest headache for India in trying to do so is to ensure that they don’t get militarily involved in Afghanistan as the Americans did. The growing security threat to Indian embassies and consulates in Afghanistan will provoke them to do so, as can be seen by New Delhi’s decision to deploy extra troops to protect its interests. But the trouble with being involved militarily, apart from the fact that it is costly, is that an armed operation does not help further the lives of the local people; rather, it will turn them against you. India’s bid to help the Afghans rise economically would require them to engage socially and culturally with the Afghans – something the Americans failed to do.
A worthwhile way to do so would be to establish an Indian Peace Corps – perhaps in line with President Kennedy’s US Peace Corps – which can consist of young educated volunteers who live and work in Afghanistan, helping do humanitarian work, and spread literacy, education, employment etc. Of course, as always, with the Islamists vowing to bring down any such attempts by the Indians, there will be a grave threat to the security of such workers. That’s where India needs to continue training the Afghan police and military so that the local forces can soon take over the responsibility of maintaining law and order.
India needs to realize its responsibilities in Afghanistan and act accordingly in the face of obvious opposition. The road will be rough for both nations and the region, but for New Delhi, this is not just a responsibility; it is also an opportunity in its quest to secure lasting peace in South Asia.
The cafe I’m at right now, using their wireless, of course has a flatscreen with CNN blaring out. The news is optimistic – Russia has offered a resolution that would keep war from occurring between the United States and Syria, with Russia helping along in the process of facilitating a surrender of Syrian chemical weapons.
Russia is a big country and, even though the Cold War is long over, is still very powerful. Its largest naval military presence outside of the former Soviet Union is in Syria – it sent several warships out to the Mediterranean during this crisis under the claim that they would evacuate Russian military personnel in the case that the United States starting bombing.
Barack Obama’s administration said that it is willing to consider the option. The whole idea came through when John Kerry said that he Syrian President Bashar Assad could avoid getting bombed if he gave up his chemical weapons – something he may have meant rhetorically. Most people do clearly want peace, however, and the typical aggressive pride that we see in conflict is gone. The United Kingdom’s parliament voted against military action for the first time since its formation when this came up for vote. The House of Representatives is set to vote against it. Only 9% of the population of the United States wants to attack Syria.
In popular American political discourse, it’s popular to snide people are against endless wars as “isolationist.” This comes despite the fact that wars destroy infrastructure, destroy communications and, most importantly, destroy people. It destroys everything that connects us as human beings. There has never been a “good war” – only wars that required action to stop. It should be avoided at all costs. Real engagement comes from doing the opposite of what this country has done for years. Since the end of World War II, this country has launched a military assault overseas on an average of every 40 months – while other countries have developed high speed rail, serious universal health care programs and other government programs, we have spent most of our money on weapons – building effective cruise missiles and battleships while our bridges and roads literally fall apart.
This country can help to repair its shattered image by publicly rescinding its old ways. Enhancing the United Nations, an organization the United States started, through increased funding would be a critical step along with making sure the money went to less militaristic means of alleviating crisis like that in Syria. A robust program of finding and relocating refugees in crisis to safe areas would be a good step.
This country’s imperial and aggressive behavior has led to terrorist attacks in our largest cities, hatred from large populations of the world and strain with our traditional allies. The failure of the Obama administration to launch another war would be an amazing change – change we really can believe in – and should usher the dawn of an era in which America engages the world instead of intimidating it with violence.
Hello, my name is Orion. I’m a freelance writer and, in my hobby time, democratic socialist activist. As much as I personally would prefer to exit the no-holds-barred world of politics, the issues affect our daily lives and there is no way to ignore them. I had been contributing to a left wing site before and libertarian sites before that and couldn’t really stomach it anymore. This war in Syria is insanity and being associated with mainstream political movements in the United States is nothing short of embarrassing.
When I messaged Punk Johnny Cash about contributing here, he said that I was only more than welcome but that the website had been dead for two months and I was welcome to take a leadership role. I’m going to change up a few things as admin here and that means bringing in alot of new writers that I think would make the place stronger. These guys will be a little more mainstream than Gonzo is usually known for while also fiercely independent.
Independence and peace will be the main issues that the new Gonzo will push. I hope to make Gonzo a serious effort at providing independent voices and paradoxically making them mainstream. Our society is diverse but monotone as well – many voices are not being heard because their voice doesn’t fit with the narrative. In a world of seven billion people, it is surely not as simple as we like to make it.
The first writer I have recruited is Mohamed Zeeshan. Mohamed is still only a teenager but is extremely intelligent and liberal in an independent, free thinking manner. He has more than a few articles already in the bag that he would like to share with the world. He is from India and I hope his point of view, coming as it is from a much different culture, will have impact on our stateside readers.
I of course hope PJC comes back and shares his thoughts on things and that more people will come on board. I am very excited about this.
If you are also excited, there’s two ways to help – contributing is easy – we will welcome writers that fit in to our general sphere of belief on issues. There is also a “donate” button. Your monetary help will help keep the site alive and make it possible to compensate contributors for their work.
A little note – the editing on this article got a little weird so you experience large blocks of text awkwardly, remember I am aware of it. WordPress is a complex program and we’re doing our best. Before I open with this article, I want to thank Punk Johnny Cash, the leader of this website, for inviting me back. Political writing is only a hobby of mine – my income comes from other efforts. I do this for the same reason most people talk about public issues through the ages – to find truth.
This Syria conflict is quite fascinating in so many ways. It not only cracks Barack Obama’s eggshell of himself that he created as he rose to power in this country, it also shows how hollow much of what the American people think of themselves and their policies are.
Alot of Americans shaped their idea of war and warfare around “the Good War” – World War II. In that war, we fought aggression from Japan and the evil of Nazism in Europe. The military had to be used and Korea showed again that the American military was a force for good – helping to build democracies around the world. This belief, which was shared by intellectuals like Christopher Hitchens and others who supported the invasion of Iraq, helped alot of normal Americans to support wars which were often abstract – carried out in places they’d never been by volunteer soldiers they knew little of.
As one headline recently illustrated at Alternet, the American people have never stopped a president from going to war but they very well might now. The American people really do not want to go to war in Syria – only 9% support it in some polls. 9%! Another article in Truthout showed Barack Obama alone in a hall – with the added note that Obama was getting next to no support for his adventure from allies. No support from allies, no support from the public and possibly no support from Congress. It will really show what kind of a man Obama is if he still goes for this adventure without any of that support.
Something has changed. War protesters used to always be seen as “loons.” We didn’t have senators who talked in anti-war terms the way politicians like Alan Grayson or Rand Paul do. Americans are much less ready to support a war than they used to be.
Perhaps the reality of the horror of war has set in. We have seen terrorist attacks in major American cities, in recent years, we have gone through Abu Gharib, Guantanamo and other embarrassments. Little good has come out of our adventures – instead the costs have accumulated. It doesn’t take a genius as well to think that many of Syria’s problems, being close to Iraq, may have been caused by our messing around in the region already. Soldiers have come home in coffins, people in other countries have scorned this country and law enforcement has become more militarized just as our infrastructure literally falls apart. War is futile. It’s always futile.
The myth that the American military helped build modern day Germany and Japan is an American fantasy. The United States helped to end those wars – that was the intended goal during most of 1941-45 – in contrast much of the wars, especially in the Middle East, since WWII seem to have no endsite. They are sought out and sold to the public like a used car and are kept protracted and endless so that the oil extractors and weapons developers who benefit from them can make as much money as possible.
To people who believe that war helped develop Germany and Japan, I recommend watching the film Grave of the Fireflies. In that film, a young boy whose parents have been called by the bombing of Japan stumbles around with his younger sister, trying to feed her and being turned down by administrators busy treating bombing victims. It’s a cartoon but the movie is brutal – you see the burns, disease and scars that war creates. The young boy’s sister eventually dies of malnourishment, a result of the hell of war. That hell was caused by Imperial Japan’s aggression.
Japan got wiped out – two of its cities became the only place nuclear weapons were ever used on human beings. The Japanese saw what war really does – they saw how futile building weapons for murder and vehicles for delivering that murder is – they instead built a robust economy and new success in building products for the whole world, gaining far more success than they ever did attacking China or the Pacific Islands.
The experience was similar in Germany. I had two German roommates years ago who told me that most schoolchildren are told early on about the Holocaust, what led to it and how to avoid a repeat of that horror. It’s widely accepted that war crippled Germany and European passivity in wars is not strange but forged by hard experience. Germany now has a large economy – the largest in Europe – and its citizens enjoy a fantastic standard of living as their citizens live free of the sort of war that took the continent by force.
Americans are slowly learning this lesson now and not too soon. The American people clearly do not want a war in Syria – only the military industrial complex and the politicians that lobby for it do. We could have a new awakening in this country if we stopped looking for wars to fight and focused on our personal prosperity instead. Wars are horrific. The reality of war is the reality – it is not the glorious game of Risk that warmongers think it is. To pursue wars of choice when so many things could be done to improve our own lives is an illness that has infected too many.
War is futile. Life is precious. There has never been a “good war.” Of all the things we can do to make this earth better, bombing another country for less than solid reasons is not it. Calls for him to be impeached are extreme given what went on in previous administrations but Barack Obama certainly should have his Nobel Prize repealed for using his presidency not to advance peace but to do the opposite. Peace is the real change we can all believe in.
According to Justin Fox, a paid apologist for capital at the Harvard Business Review, the difference between the Great Recession and the Great Depression can be summarized in a single chart. Fox explains his perverse reasoning:
“Basically, if you think this downturn was comparable in origin and inherent severity to the other recessions since World War II, then we’ve been the victims of economic-policy bungling of epic proportions. If, on the other hand, you think the proper comparison is the Great Depression, the last U.S. downturn brought on by a severe financial crisis, you’d have to say the White House, Congress, and most of all the Federal Reserve have done an absolutely brilliant job relative to their early-1930s counterparts. I’d lean toward explanation No. 2 — we did actually learn something from the Great Depression, although probably not enough.”
So, apparently, we have a choice of standards by which to measure the severity of the present crisis: the official unemployment data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment during the Great Depression, which involved a greater percentage of the wage labor population than the present depression. Or the level of unemployment in the post-war period, including the depression of the 1970s, when employment actually increased over the whole of the depression.
Guess which one Justin Fox, of the capitalist mouthpiece, the Harvard Business Review, wants to use.
There is a lot of talk in policy circles and among speculators on Wall Street that the Federal Reserve will begin to ‘taper off’ its wholesale counterfeiting of fiat dollars before the end of the year. Whether or not this happens, I think any attempt to taper off counterfeiting dollars will have to be reversed in short order.
The reason why tapering will likely not happen is not to be explained by any lack of hyperinflationary risks associated with the insane counterfeiting of dollars Bernanke is engaged in — the risk of hyperinflation is actually quite high. But this risk of hyperinflation is dwarfed by the even greater risks associated with not insanely counterfeiting: outright deflation that threatens the very existence of the mode of production itself.
Christina and David Romer have declared that the argument from some policy quarters that Federal Reserve monetary policy doesn’t matter is “the most dangerous idea in Federal Reserve history”.
Let’s see why this might be true.