Thursday, September 16, 2010

What a wonderful bunch of monkeys we are.

From The Infinite Hypocrisy of the West
By Fidel Castro

Although several articles on this subject were published before and after September 1st, 2010, on that day the Mexican daily La Jornada published one of great impact entitled El holocausto gitano: ayer y hoy (The gypsies’ holocaust: yesterday and today) which reminds us of a truly tragic history. Without adding or deleting a single word from the information contained in the article, I will quote some lines referring to some events that are really touching. Neither the West nor -most of all- its colossal media apparatus have said a single word about them.

“1496: boom of humanist thinking. The Rom peoples (gypsies) from Germany are declared traitors to the Christian nations, spies paid by the Turkish, carriers of the plague, witches and warlocks, bandits and children kidnappers.

“1710: century of Enlightenment and rationale. An edict ordered that adult gypsies from Prague be hanged without any previous trial. Young persons and women were mutilated. In Bohemia their left ear were cut off; in Moravia, their right ear.

“1899: climax of modernity and progress. The police of Bavaria founded the Special Section for Gypsies’ Affairs. In 1929, the section was promoted to the category of National Central section and was moved to Munich. In 1937 it was based in Berlin. Four years later, half a million gypsies died in the concentration camps of Central and Eastern Europe.”

“In her PhD’s thesis, Eva Justin (assistant of Dr. Robert Ritter of the Racial Research Section of the Ministry of Health of Germany), asserted that gypsies’ blood was extremely harmful to the purity of the German race. Someone called Dr. Portschy sent a memorandum to Hitler suggesting that gypsies should be submitted to forced labor and mass sterilization because they jeopardized the pure blood of the German peasantry.

“The gypsies, who were labeled as inveterate criminals, started to be arrested en masse, and as from 1938 they were put into special blocks at the Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Gusen, Dautmergen, Natzweiler and Flossenburg camps.

“In a concentration camp he owned in Ravensbruck, Heinrich Himmler, chief of the Gestapo (SS), created a space to sacrifice gypsy women who were submitted to medical experiments. One hundred and twenty zingari girls were sterilized. Gypsy women married to non-gypsy men were sterilized at the Dusseldorf-Lierenfeld hospital.

“Thousands of gypsies were deported from Belgium, the Netherlands and France to the Polish concentration camp of Auschwitz. In his memoirs, Rudolf Hoess (commander of Auschwitz) wrote that among the gypsies deported there were old people almost one hundred years of age, pregnant women and a large number of children.

“At the ghetto of Lodz (Poland) […] none of the 5 000 gypsies survived.”

“In Yugoslavia, gypsies and Jews were equally killed in the forest of Jajnice. Farmers still remember the cries of the gypsy children who were taken to the places of execution.”

“At the extermination camps, only the love of gypsies for music was at times a source of comfort. In Auschwitz, starving and infested with lice, they gathered together to play music and encouraged children to dance. But the courage of gypsy guerrillas who fought alongside the Polish resistance in the region of Nieswiez was also legendary.”

Music was the factor that kept them together and helped them to survive, just as much as religion was for Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Of course, not much has changed. This history is in the news because France is deporting hundreds of Gypsies because of their apparent 'criminal nature'.

Fascinating how Hitler's and Goebbel's style of racial hatred still works today. Of course, they can't use Jews as the scapegoats anymore. But there are apparently plenty of other targets out there for whom such racial bigotry is perfectly acceptable.

One of the blessings of largely ignoring the corporate media is that I've heard remarkably little of the apparent debate of a mosque in lower Manhattan. But apparently, this sort of race baiting still works rather well with a decent sized portion of the US public, as long as the targets are 'muslims'.

If you read history, you know what a frightfully short journey it was from the age of enlightenment and reason at the end of the 19th century, to Auschwitz. And what powers that journey is this mental virus of hatred that somehow convinces some people that its perfectly fine if others are robbed, tortured and killed. Its this same racial hatred that we see today towards Gypsies and Muslims that drives that journey to a hell of war crimes and atrocities.

Of course, the truly bizarre part is that this is done in the name of Jesus Christ, who got himself hung on a cross because he got too loud about telling people not to do exactly this.

Does 40% equal 'withdrawal'?

Lets take a total look at numbers in Iraq.

FAS has a document that estimates that there are 95,000 contractors in Iraq as of March 2010. And the high point of US troop totals was about 150,000. So, to use nice round numbers, lets say there were 250,000 guys and gals with guns in Iraq.

Obama has withdrawn 100,000, bringing the US official 'non-combat' troop total down to the 50,000 or so troops that the Democrats have been promising to keep in Iraq ever since gaining power in Congress in 2007.

Which means, the total number of people toting guns around Iraq for 'our side' has gone from 250,000 to 150,000. Overall numbers are down 40%. Doesn't sound like much of a 'withdrawal' when you look at it that way. 'Drawdown' might work for how to describe this. But to call it a 'withdrawal', which usually means 'leaving', well, Orwell would be proud of the Democrats for that one.

Oh, and that assumes that the number of contractors stays level, which probably won't be the case since that same google search found other papers which talk about the thousands of tasks that have been identified for handover to 'civilians'. So, that 40% withdrawal that it looks like was done in the numbers above probably isn't as big as it looks either.

Unfortunately, as many men have found out the hard way, 40% doesn't equal total withdrawal. But there have been armies of cigarette smokers and heroin addicts who've prayed to God that they could have ended their withdrawals at 40% and claimed victory.

And, if you voted Democrat because you wanted peace, then you were just totally hosed. Because most of those troops that were 'withdrawn' from Iraq have gone to Afghanistan. Voting for Obama didn't lead to peace. It led to an Iraq that's still broken, but which got a new coat of whitewash for Obama's photo-op. And it led to a bigger and bigger war in Afghanistan, which, oh by the way, has been escalated into a proxy war in Pakistan as well.

Well, Obama can say he delivered 'change'. It was just change in the wrong direction. When Obama said 'change', apparently he meant more and more and more war. Bush's never ending war has now become Obama's never ending war.

From Merriam-Webster:
Definition of WITHDRAWAL
a : the act of taking back or away something that has been granted or possessed b : removal from a place of deposit or investment c (1) : the discontinuance of administration or use of a drug (2) : the syndrome of often painful physical and psychological symptoms that follows discontinuance of an addicting drug (a heroin addict going through withdrawal)
a : retreat or retirement especially into a more secluded or less exposed place or position b : an operation by which a military force disengages from the enemy c (1) : social or emotional detachment (2) : a pathological retreat from objective reality (as in some schizophrenic states)
: retraction, revocation
a : the act of drawing someone or something back from or out of a place or position b : coitus interruptus

Private Armies

Blackwater's Black Ops by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation.

There was always a dark side to the US government contracting out its military and intel operations to private companies. And that was that in the process we were creating private armies.

Its one thing for a nation to spend money on its own armed forces. I think that the US way overspends, and has been hurting its economy by doing so. But, at least when the nation spends money on its own armed forces, those forces stay under control of the nation. At least in the theory they teach in civics books, that military is answerable to civilian authorities. Which in turn is supposedly elected in free and fair democratic elections. The basic democratic ideal of a free nation is that the people control the military.

But when such money is "Outsourced" to private firms like Blackwater (who's pr people have renamed as "Xe", apparently trying to hide under an obscure name), the people end up having no control over the armed force that's created with their money.

Here's how it works. The US pays out our tax money to purchase Blackwater's services. Blackwater then uses this money to recruit people and buy equipment. Blackwater uses this money to train its people. Then, hopefully they go do the task, like protecting State Dept personnel, that they were contracted to do.

Except, when the contract's up, those trained people and equipment don't go away. Now there's a private army in existence. And since the US has been contracting out 'intel' ops to Blackwater, now there's essentially a private CIA in existence. All paid for by the hard earned tax dollars of working Americans.

Over the past several years, entities closely linked to the private security firm Blackwater have provided intelligence, training and security services to US and foreign governments as well as several multinational corporations, including Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and banking giants Deutsche Bank and Barclays, according to documents obtained by The Nation. Blackwater's work for corporations and government agencies was contracted using two companies owned by Blackwater's owner and founder, Erik Prince: Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center (TRC). Prince is listed as the chairman of both companies in internal company documents, which show how the web of companies functions as a highly coordinated operation. Officials from Total Intelligence, TRC and Blackwater (which now calls itself Xe Services) did not respond to numerous requests for comment for this article.

One of the most incendiary details in the documents is that Blackwater, through Total Intelligence, sought to become the "intel arm" of Monsanto, offering to provide operatives to infiltrate activist groups organizing against the multinational biotech firm.

So, now when local citizens around the world try to exercise their rights as free people to organize against a chemical and biotech corporation's assaults on their society, they are now facing this private CIA and this private army that was paid by US tax dollars.

Gee thanks.

And, while the Democrats will try to use their usual spin of blaming this all on Bush and the Republicans, not a single thing has changed when Obama and the Democrats got to power. If anything, its gotten worse as Obama wants his dog-and-pony show fake withdrawal from Iraq. And he's getting it by dumping more and more of the violent dirty work on 'contractors'. While troop numbers decrease in Iraq, contractor numbers stay even or keep climbing.

The bad news about mercenaries is that they don't just disappear when the contract's up. What we've done is create armies of mercenary soldiers and spies who will now be turned loose on anyone who dares to challenge anyone with the millions of dollars needed to pay their fees. And, it won't be the local activists who have the millions of dollars.

After the meeting in Zurich, Black sent an e-mail to other Blackwater executives, including to Prince and Prado at their Blackwater e-mail addresses. Black wrote that Wilson "understands that we can span collection from internet, to reach out, to boots on the ground on legit basis protecting the Monsanto [brand] name.... Ahead of the curve info and insight/heads up is what he is looking for." Black added that Total Intelligence "would develop into acting as intel arm of Monsanto." Black also noted that Monsanto was concerned about animal rights activists and that they discussed how Blackwater "could have our person(s) actually join [activist] group(s) legally." Black wrote that initial payments to Total Intelligence would be paid out of Monsanto's "generous protection budget" but would eventually become a line item in the company's annual budget. He estimated the potential payments to Total Intelligence at between $100,000 and $500,000. According to documents, Monsanto paid Total Intelligence $127,000 in 2008 and $105,000 in 2009.

Interesting. They aren't as expensive as I thought.

This is one thing any activist has to realize. These sorts of expenditures are a tiny blip in a budget like Monsanto's. Or, that would be a tiny blip in say a political campaign that has hundreds of millions or tens of millions to spend. Not much we can do about it, except be aware that its very cheap for someone to pay to infiltrate our groups.

The key somehow is to build such groups such that they can't be disrupted by such infiltration. Somehow, we got to know that we can be spied on. We've got to to know that people can come in and disrupt us. But we've still got to be able to carry on and be effective despite that.

Its not impossible. It helps not to be reliant on 'leaders', as leaders can always be bought or diverted. Its vital to have a group of committed grassroots activists who believe in what they are doing. Then they have to keep that focus despite any attempts to disrupt the group, or to turn members of the group on each other. Its not easy. But it can be done.