The Other Hiroshimas: A Review of ‘Napalm: An American Biography’, by Robert M. Neer

Fire-weapons have been used from ancient times.  Napalm-like weapons were used by and against the Romans and Greeks.  One term used for them was “wildfire”; another was “Greek fire”, as incendiaries were widely used by the Greeks.  Some ships were equipped to shoot other vessels with flaming oils emitted from tubes in their bows.  Individual soldiers were equipped with flaming oils that they could shoot through reeds in a kind of fire-breath.  But the use of incendiaries declined as longer-range projectiles were created, such as rockets (e.g. the British rockets mentioned in the US national anthem). Incendiaries were always regarded with particular awe and horror, as they invoked the terrors of hell and being burned to death.

As the ability to project incendiaries over long ranges increased in the 19th century, the weapon again came into use.  The major turning point that would see an unprecedented rise of fire-weapons was World War II.  With Germany leading the way, Japanese and British forces also used incendiaries to devastating effect, but the weapon would be taken to new heights by the United States.  Initially, US officials said they wanted to avoid the “area bombing” – killing everyone in a large area – that was being carried out by the above groups on various cities.  But soon they abandoned this approach and embraced the method.  Wanting to further increase their ability to destroy large areas, and with particular regard to the wooden cities of Japan (66), the US Chemical Warfare Service assembled a team of chemists at Harvard to design an incendiary weapon that would be optimal for this goal.

As the team progressed in its development, the military built replicas of German and Japanese civilian homes – complete with furnishings, with the most attention devoted to bedrooms and attics – so that the new weapon, dubbed “napalm” (a portmanteau of chemicals napthenate and palmitate) could be tested. In all of these replica structures, which were built, burnt, and rebuilt multiple times, only civilian homes were constructed – never military, industrial, or commercial buildings (stated multiple times, e.g. 37).  In 1931, US General Billy Mitchell, regarded as the “founding inspiration” of the US Air Force, remarked that since Japanese cities were “built largely of wood and paper”, they made the “greatest aerial targets the world has ever seen. … Incendiary projectiles would burn the cities to the ground in short order.”  In 1941, US Army chief of staff George Marshall told reporters that the US would “set the paper cities of Japan on fire”, and that “There won’t be any hesitation about bombing civilians” (66).  While napalm was first used against Japanese troops in the Pacific Islands, the campaign of “area bombing” of Japanese civilians was led by a man with the “aura of a borderline sociopath” who had, as a child, enjoyed killing small animals (70): Curtis LeMay.  LeMay said the goal was for Japanese cities to be “wiped right off the map” (74).  To this effect, on March 9, 1945, the US “burned a flaming cross about four miles by three into the heart” of Tokyo, which crew information sheets said was the most densely populated city in the world at the time: 103,000 people per square mile.  In the first hour, 690,000 gallons of napalm were used.  The city was essentially undefended.  Japanese fighters, mostly unable to take flight, did not shoot down a single US aircraft, and air-defense batteries were defunct.

By the next morning, fifteen square miles of the city center were in ashes, with approximately 100,000 people dead, mainly from burning. Streets were strewn with “carbonized” figures and rivers were “clogged with bodies” of people who had tried to escape the firestorms.  The text contains numerous descriptions and survivors’ accounts, but here I’ll just mention one: A survivor saw a wealthy woman in a fine, gold kimono running from a firestorm. The winds, which reached hundreds of miles per-hour, whipped her high into the air and thrashed her around.  She burst into flame and disappeared, incinerated. A scrap of her kimono drifted through the air and landed at the feet of the survivor.

On the US end, multiple bombers reported vomiting in their planes from the overpowering smell, blasted skyward by the windstorms, of “roasting human flesh” – a sickly “sweet” odor (81).

In Washington, Generals congratulated each other. General Arnold cabled LeMay that he had proved that he “had the guts for anything.”  Mission commander Power boasted that “There were more casualties than in any other military action in the history of the world.”  Neer says this assessment is correct: this was the single deadliest one-night military operation in the world history of warfare, to the present (83).

Some 33 million pounds of napalm were used in the campaign overall, with 106 square miles of Japan’s cities burned flat.  330,000 civilians are estimated to have been killed, with burning “the leading cause of death”.  Chief of Air Staff Lauris Norstad said the destruction was “Nothing short of wonderful” (84).

 

After both atomic bombings (which, individually, inflicted less damage than the March 9 Tokyo area-firebombing), and after the Japanese surrender, but before it had been officially accepted, General Hap Arnold called for “as big a finale as possible.”  Accordingly, 1,014 aircraft were used to further “pulverize Tokyo with napalm and explosives”.  The US did not incur a single loss in the raid (85).

Japan’s best ability to attack the US mainland was seen in its hanging of bombs from balloons and drifting them into the eastward Jetstream. The Japanese government thus managed to kill five people in Oregon.

While the atomic bomb “got the press”, American napalm was thus established as the truly “most effective weapon”.  While each atomic bombing cost $13.5 billion, incinerating cities with napalm cost only $83,000 “per metropolis” – relatively speaking, nothing.  Napalm was now understood by the US military as the real bringer of “Armageddon”, and was then used accordingly in its next major military campaigns in foreign countries. (North America and Australia remain the only two continents where napalm has never actually been used on people. It has been used by many other militaries, largely US clients, but no one has used it to the extent of the United States [193]).

While the text continues tracing the use of napalm up to the present, the sections on the development of napalm and then its first major use, on Japan, are the most powerful – even though, after determining napalm’s power, the US used it more extensively on Korea and Vietnam (in the latter case, mostly, as the author notes, in South Vietnam, where there was no opposing air-force or air-defense).  I think this is somewhat intentional, since part of the author’s goal, I argue below, is to justify the US’s use of napalm.  This is much easier to do regarding WWII, as it is overwhelmingly interpreted by Americans as a “good war” and thus requires no justification, whereas the selectively “forgotten” Korean war or the often shame-invoking Vietnam war require historical manipulations or omissions to make US actions at least semi-thinkable.  So, from here I will give a broader summary and critique of the book.

One important theoretical and historical argument that the author makes is that while there was virtually no American opposition to the use of napalm in WWII or against Korea (indeed, there was celebration; in WWII, the press did not even mention human victims in its initial reports of the raids, only property damage [82]), in the course of the Vietnam war, massive disgust and opposition resulted from the US’s widespread use of the incendiary chemical concoction.  (During the Korean war, there was foreign opposition to the US’s use of napalm to incinerate Korean cities.  Even Winston Churchill, who oversaw the brutal torture or killing of millions of people elsewhere, such as in India, remarked that the US’s napalm use was “very cruel”: the US was “splashing it all over the civilian population”, “tortur[ing] great masses of people”.  The US official who took this statement declined to publicize it [102-3].)  Because of concerted opposition to napalm and corporations (particularly Dow Chemical) that produced napalm for the military, the gel became regarded as a “worldwide synonym for American brutality” (224). Neer asserts that a reason for this is that “authorities did not censor” during the Vietnam war to the extent that they did “during World War II and the Korean War” (148).  Images of children and others horrifically burnt or incinerated by napalm therefore became available to the public and incited people like Dr. Bruce Franklin and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to engage in group actions to stop the war and the use of napalm.  What this says about the effectiveness of imagery and government and corporate control of imagery, and information generally – and about Franklin’s observation that censorship was increased in response to opposition to the Vietnam war (Vietnam and Other American Fantasies) – may be disquieting.

However, Neer points out (and in part seems to lament), the image of napalm was never salvaged, except for within a sub-group of personality-types (in this text limited to the rabble) who had always enthusiastically supported its use, referring to its Vietnamese victims in racist and xenophobic terms such as “ungodly savages”, “animals” (130), etc., or with statements such as “I Back Dow [Chemical]. I Like My VC [Vietcong] Well Done” (142). These kinds of statements were often embarrassing to corporate and government officials who tried to defend their use of the chemical on “humanitarian” and other such grounds, in apparent contrast to the low-brow rabble that simply admitted it liked the idea of roasting people alive.  When W. Bush used napalm and other incendiaries against personnel in his invasion of Iraq, initiated in 2003, the weapon’s reputation was then such, on balance, that the administration at first tried to deny that it was being used (e.g. 210).  In academic biographies of the main inventor of napalm, Louis Fieser, Neer notes that the fire-gel goes mysteriously unmentioned.

Attention on napalm due to American use of it in Vietnam resulted in multiple experts and expert panel assessments of the weapon, and the issue was repeatedly raised in the UN General Assembly – which, since the Korean War and the rise of the decolonization climate, had drifted increasingly away from purely Western colonial, American-led control.  (During the Korean War, China had not been admitted to the UN and the USSR abstained from participation [92].)  In 1967, Harvard Medical School instructor Peter Reich and senior physician at Massachusetts General Hospital Victor Sidel called napalm a “chemical weapon” that causes horrific burns, and said it is particularly dangerous for children and has a devastating psychological clout.  They said doctors should familiarize themselves with napalm’s effects (133).  In 1968, the UN General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution deploring “the use of chemical and biological means of warfare, including napalm bombing” (175). In 1971, the UNGA called napalm a “cruel” weapon.  In 1972, it again overwhelmingly approved a resolution deploring the use of napalm “in all armed conflicts”, noting it regarded the weapon “with horror” (178). An expert panel agreed, calling napalm a “savage and cruel” “area weapon” of “total war” (176).  The United States abstained from or opposed all of these overwhelmingly approved resolutions.

While napalm ultimately lost the battle for public opinion, its use today is only technically outlawed against civilians and civilian areas – an agreement reached in 1980 and finally ratified by the US, with self-exceptions of dubious legality, in 2009.

While the text is highly informative and readable, my main critique is that as it presents the reality of napalm and its use, it drifts – seemingly out of nationalistic necessity – into a partisan defense of the United States. My problem with this is that Neer does not state this position outright but argues it implicitly, through omission. Regarding WWII, defending US actions requires little work.  Most people who would read this book, including myself, know that the crimes committed by Germany and Japan were perpetrated on a scale far vaster than the violent actions carried out by the US at the time.  However, there is an interesting point within this observation, which Neer should be commended for not necessarily shying away from: if we imagine a parallel situation of a group attacking a second group that a) militarily attacked the first group and b) is universally recognized for performing terrible acts, it does not mean the first group is angelic and thereafter morally justified in anything it wants to do.  (An example to illustrate the parallel might be Iran’s anti-ISIS campaign, which Iran is using in ways similar to how the US uses WWII, to legitimate itself and justify subsequent actions.)  The first group, even if less criminal, can still be incredibly brutal, and can easily issue self-serving justifications (such as expediency, “humanitarianism”, etc.) for its brutality.  This is a dynamic that may be illustrated in, for example, the fact that the US’s March 9 attack on Tokyo was and remains the single deadliest one-night act of war in world history.  Germany and Japan were far worse overall at the time, but this does not mean the people in the US administration were Gandhi, or that everything the US did should be celebrated or issued blanket justification.  Robert McNamara, for example, LeMay’s top lieutenant in WWII and later architect of the efficiency-maximizing “body-count” policy in Vietnam (See Turse, Kill Anything that Moves), said the firebombing of Tokyo “was a war crime” (226).  Still, Neer limits understanding here, and covers for “his” side, by omitting any discussion of racism (more on this below), and may only be more willing to detail US actions because of the distance in time and the feeling that any action in WWII is justified by Germany and Japan’s unthinkable criminality.  (We might also note that, for example, Zinn, in his history of the United States, argues that the US was supportive of both German and Japanese state terrorism and aggression before the two nations made their desperate go-for-broke bids for empire-extension and colonization-avoidance, and that, in terms of Germany, as the documentary record illustrates, the US was not motivated by a desire to save Jewish people.)

Regarding the Korean War, Neer’s method for “justifying” the US’s use of napalm is to omit literally everything that happened contextually before North Korean forces crossed the 38thparallel, and to act as if the UN imprimatur for the Western war in Korea was meaningful, and not essentially the US approving its own war-plans.  He does say that China and Russia did not participate in the UN then (China because it was not allowed and Russia by protest of China’s exclusion, according to Neer), but he does not explicitly note, as, say, does Banivanua-Mar in Decolonizing the Pacific, that the UN at this point was simply a Western colonial (and neocolonial) military alliance utterly dominated by the United States, with no opposition.  Thus, UN imprimatur meant nothing like what it would mean today, when it is still highly problematic.  “UN forces”, as Neer implicitly illustrates at one point, were basically US forces.[i]  On the other issue, Neer has no excuse for omitting everything that happened before NK troops crossed the 38thparallel because (for other reasons) he cites Bruce Cumings, whose authoritative seminal study The Korean War: A History points out that before DPRK (NK) troops entered, the US had itself invented the 38thparallel by looking at a map and guessing the halfway point.  The line was an arbitrary US creation to serve US interests and tactics, not a Korean one.  The US then propped up a dictator in the South and exterminated one or two hundred thousand people beforethe NK troops “invaded” by crossing the US’s arbitrary line.  The troops from the North, like much if not most of the population, did not accept the artificial division or the US-backed dictatorship that was exterminating people in the South.  Cumings also says the US war on North Korea constituted “genocide”, and says the NK troops empirically, i.e. simply by the numbers, behaved far better than American or South Korean forces, as unacceptable as this is to the mind of a fanatically ‘anti-communist’ culture.  Reckoning with the US’s pouring of “oceans of napalm”[ii]on Korea in this light thus becomes more challenging – even more so if racism is not omitted, as it also is in Neer’s account.  Cumings, by contrast, notes that Americans referred to “all Koreans, North and South”, as “gooks”, and to the Chinese as “chinks”.  This was part of a “logic” that said “they are savages, so that gives us a right to shower napalm on innocents.”[iii]

Neer even engages in this a bit himself, demonstrating some of what historian Dong Choon Kim notes was an attitude of dehumanization of the “other”.  Kim writes that the “discourse and rhetoric that US and ROK [South Korea] elites used dehumanizing the target group (‘communists’) was similar to what has occurred in … cases of genocide”.[iv]  Neer, for example, says, using the US’s self-serving ideological framing, that napalm “held the line against communism” in the 1950s and then “served with distinction” in Vietnam – characterizations seemingly intended to evoke strength, honor, and rightness.

Neer also says China “invaded” North Korea (96).  This is false.  The US didn’t like it, but China was invited into North Korea by the DPRK regime.  Unlike the US, China did not cross the US’s 38thparallel.  The characterization of China as invader in this context is also curious given that Neer never once says the US (or UN) invaded North Korea or Vietnam.  US actions are thus never characterized as invasions, while China’s invited defense of North Korea, which remained entirely within that territory, is.

Regarding Vietnam, Neer again justifies US action through omission of context such as the Geneva Accords of 1954[v]and the US’s own findings that the vast majority of the Vietnamese population supported the independence/anti-colonial/communist movement that the US was trying to prevent from holding the nationwide unification vote mandated by the Geneva Accords.  Also interestingly in this chapter, Neer gives his only editorial characterization of the use of napalm as an “atrocity” – in describing a “Vietcong” use of napalm, which Neer says the Vietcong barely used – flamethrowers were a small part of their arsenal.  Yet a relatively minor use of napalm by the “Vietcong” merits a casual editorial value-judgment by Neer as an “atrocity” while no other action in the text does so.

Neer at one point says that Cuba and the USSR used napalm against “pro-Western forces in Angola in 1978” (194).  In this case, omission is used to condemn, rather than justify, napalm use, since Neer fails to mention that those “pro-Western forces”, which indeed were pro-Western and US-supported, were Apartheid regimes massacring black people and trying to maintain openly white supremacist dictatorships.  Thus, when the nature of a regime serves the purpose of justifying American use of napalm, it is highlighted, but when, if the same logic were applied, it might “justify” a non-Western use of napalm, the nature of the regime is imbued with a positive hue as “pro-Western” – thus implicitly condemning the non-Western forces’ use of napalm.

One gets virtually zero sense in the book of the prevalence of racism in US culture during these time periods.  It is reduced to a couple of unknown, fringe civilians making comments in favor of napalm – comments then contrasted with the more sophisticated producers of napalm, who are characterized as embarrassed by the ugly racist remarks.  The omission of racism stands in sharp contrast to many other histories of the eras, such as Dower’s history of WWII (War Without Mercy), in which he notes that an exterminationist ethos towards the Japanese was present in a minority of the US population generally, but much more prevalent in elite political circles carrying out the US’s military actions.  Dehumanizing terms like “Jap” and “gook” are thus never mentioned once in Neer’s text, though they were used all the time.  One gets the sense that Neer feels that including the extent of American racism (even race-law; see Hitler’s American Model, by Whitman, or The Color of the Law, by Rothstein) along with his accounts of America blanketing defenseless Asian cities with napalm would allow an image of the US that, though historically accurate, would be too unpalatable to be acceptable.

All of this may not be completely surprising given that Neer teaches a course about US history called “Empire of Liberty”, which, for example, includes two texts by Max Boot, often regarded as a “neocon”.  I have no issue, in theory, with taking this position, but if doing so requires omissions as large as some of those mentioned above, in at least one case even flirting with genocide-denial, or at least avoidance of the debate, (i.e., completely omitting US-backed South Korean dictatorship), I start to question the position’s validity.

Overall, though, if one wants to learn about napalm and some things it illustrates about US history and ideology, this text should certainly be read – in conjunction with others that give a fuller picture of the reality of the times.

Robert J. Barsocchini is working on a Master’s thesis in American Studies. Years serving as a cross-cultural intermediary for corporations in the film and Television industry sparked his interest in discrepancies between Western self-image and reality.

Notes:

[i]Neer notes that Eighth Army Chemical Engineer Corps officer Bode said that of the approx. 70,000 pounds of napalm being thrown on Korea on “a good day”, about 60,000 pounds of this was thrown by US forces. P. 99.

[ii]Cumings, Bruce. The Korean War: A History. Modern Library. 2011. P. 145.

[iii]Ibid. p. 81, 153.

[iv]Kim, Dong Choon. “Forgotten War, Forgotten Massacres—the Korean War (1950–1953) as Licensed Mass Killings.” Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 6, no. 4, 2004, pp. 523–544. P. 17.

[v]Neer does mention other Vietnam-related events in the 1950s, thus giving at least some broader context.

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This is the real, Americanized, nazi, Ukraine

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

Such important reality as is shown in this picture is virtually unpublishable in mainstream U.S. ‘news’media, because U.S. ‘news’media need to deceive their public about the most important international realities — such as that the U.S. imposed upon Ukraine a nazi regime against Russia, and the U.S. now lies to accuse Russia for doing what Russia must do in order to protect itself from the U.S. nazi regime next-door.

This picture is among many which were originally published in the excellent 4 July 2018 article by Asa Winstanley at The Elecronic Intifada. His article was headlined “Israel is arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine”. That article focuses upon Israel’s strong support for the racist-fascist (or ideologically nazi) Government of Ukraine. (Click onto it to see the documentation — it’s Israeli nazis, against Russians, not against Jews, though they’re allied with ones that are against both, which is why the U.S. did this — aiming to conquer ultimately Russia.)

Israel does this as part of the U.S.-led coalition in support of the current racist-fascist Government of Ukraine, which Government was installed in a bloody coup that U.S. President Barack Obama started planning by no later than 2011 and started operationalizing on 1 March 2013 and carried out in February 2014 under the cover of U.S. State Department and CIA-generated anti-corruption mass demonstrations on Kiev’s Maidan square, but some of whose U.S.-funded snipers have already gone public (though not in U.S. ‘news’media) describing how they were hired to do it, and how they did it.

How, then, can anybody believe the U.S. ‘news’media, which hide these clear realities, instead of ever having reported them to the duped American public?

The U.S. Government’s anti-Russian sanctions, and its NATO exercises with U.S. missiles and tanks on and near Russia’s borders, are based upon the U.S. government’s lies, not upon the truths that this photo represents and which will here be explained.

In U.S. ‘news’media, the overthrow and replacement of Ukraine’s democratically elected government was ‘the Maidan Revolution’, or ‘the 2014 Ukrainian revolution’, not Obama’s coup in Ukraine. They lie blatantly, and they’ll never be truthful about their having done it. Thus, George Friedman, the founder and owner of the “private CIA” firm Stratfor, called it “the most blatant coup in history,” but only when speaking to a Russian publication — and, then, when he got flak from the U.S. regime for having said that, he denied he had said it. The lies are that mandatory.

The person at the center of this photo above, is Andrei Biletsky (or “Beletsky”), whose Battalion is directly armed by U.S. taxpayers (i.e., by the U.S. Government). He has publicly stated the Battalion’s and his own ideology, as being “socialism” defined as “negation of democracy”; “racism” as being defined as “against Semites and the sub-humans they use”; and finally as being defined as affirmation of “imperialism” so as “to create a Third Empire [a Ukrainian Third Reich]”; and, here are just a few excerpts from his ideological statement, which is lifted from Hitler but with “Ukrainian” replacing “German”:

——

Ukrainian Social Nationalism

[symbol is presented here of the inverted Nazi Wolfsangel sign, the same symbol that’s behind Beletsky in that photo just above here]

The main idea of mystical Social Nationalism is its creation, consisting not of piles of separate individuals united mechanistically into something called “Ukrainian” and the presence of Ukrainian passport, but instead a single National biological organism, which will consist of a new people — a physically, intellectually and spiritually more highly developed people. From the mass of individuals will thus come forth the nation, and the faint start of modern man: Superman.

Social Nationalism is based on a number of fundamental principles that clearly distinguish it from other right-wing movements. This triad is: socialism, racism, imperialism. 

I. Socialism. We fight to create a harmonious national community. …

On the principle of socialism follows our complete negation of democracy and liberalism, which generate rozbytthya Nation isolated on gray power unit and a crowd of famous personalities (ochlocracy). Instead, we put forward the idea of national solidarity, the natural hierarchy and discipline, as the basis of our new society. Not a “democratic vote” crowd, who can not give councils to their own life, much less to the life of the State, but instead natural selection of the best representatives of the Nation — born-leaders as Ukraine’s leaders. …

II. Racism. All our nationalism is nothing — just a castle in the sand — without reliance on the foundation of blood Races. … If Ukrainian spirituality, culture and language are unique, it is only because our racial nature is unique. If Ukraine will become paradise on earth, it is only because our Race turned it so. 

Accordingly, treatment of our national body should start with racial purification of the Nation. … The historic mission of our Nation, a watershed in this century, is thus to lead the White peoples of the world in the final crusade for their survival. It is to lead the war against Semites and the sub-humans they use.

III. Imperialism. We change the slogans “Independent Ukraine,” “United Ukraine” and “Ukrainians,” by an imperial nation that has a long history. … The task of the present generation is to create a Third Empire [a Ukrainian Third Reich] — Great Ukraine. … Any living organism in nature seeks to expand, reproduce itself, increase its numbers. This law is universal. … Suspension means extinction in nature — death. The slowdown in population growth leads to biological death of Nations, the suspension of political expansion, and decline of the state. … If we are strong, we take what is ours by right and even more, we will build a superpower empire — Great Ukraine. … 

Social Nationalism raises to shield all old Ukrainian Aryan values forgotten in modern society. Only their recovery and implementation by a group of fanatical fighters can we lead to the final victory of European civilization in the world struggle. 

This stand is right, and can not be otherwise!

Glory to Ukraine! 

Andrei Beletsky

——

The U.S-imposed regime has even perpetrated massacres against Ukrainians who speak Russian, and insists upon conquering or else killing them all.

This is being supported by the taxpayers of both the U.S. and Israel, as well as of Netherlands, Poland, and other U.S. allies who have contributed to Beletsky’s Azov Battalion, and who are funding Ukraine’s Government, which Obama installed in 2014.

Here are America’s taxpayer-financed Ukrainian nazis teaching children in today’s Ukrainian public schools, and even honoring and displaying a picture of Adolf Hitler’s face. Barack Obama was a liberal, but he was also a secret racist (against Russians) fascist; and this Ukrainian Government would not exist if the prior, non-fascist and non-racist Government of Ukraine had not been overthrown and replaced by him

For as long as America’s Democratic Party continues supporting and endorsing this Obama-installed nazi Government in Ukraine, America’s Republican Party will continue to be able to call this support by the U.S. Government, of nazism in our time, bipartisan — because it is — but bipartisan unity on an issue doesn’t mean that the policy is correct, nor even that it isn’t both racist and fascist: nazi. It means merely that the media continue supporting it, instead of exposing it. They keep lying about it.

American ‘news’media keep saying that if Trump were to condemn and reject the government of Ukraine, he’d then be anti-American or even un-American. With rare exceptions, America’s media consistently support the U.S.-installed Ukrainian regime. Because those exceptions are so rare, the American public, and the publics in U.S.-allied countries, also support it. They’ve been, and are, deceived.

The Hill newspaper once was courageous enough to post an exceptional article “The reality of neo-Nazis in Ukraine is far from Kremlin propaganda” in which the links documented that on a thoroughly bipartisan conservative-‘progressive’ basis, the U.S. Congress is essentially united in support of the Obama-created nazi regime in Ukraine. That is a grim situation, but it’s undeniably true, and it remains hidden instead of reported in American ‘news’media.

And that’s why the dumb coward Trump continues Obama’s policies like this, instead of condemns and cancels them — it’s why he doesn’t blame Obama for having stolen Ukraine, instead of blame Putin for having ‘stolen’ Crimea. If Trump really wanted to expose the lies of America’s ‘news’media, that’s the first of Obama’s hoaxes he would be exposing, directly to the American people, in a major address to the nation, accompanied with video clips showing the actual evidence, which would shock the nation and begin the real debate, which America’s aristocracy have been blocking.

With media like that, how can there ever be democracy in America? Will World War III be able to be avoided?

This article is being submitted to all U.S. media, but it’s not likely to be published by many (if any).

So, please send this article along to all your friends, in order that this drop of truth, in the potentially explosive bucket of U.S. ‘news’media lies about Russia, will have a chance to achieve some impact. The situation is basically similar about America’s attempt to take over Syria, but the more easily exposed lies are the ones about Ukraine; and the links here document those — which are sufficient to indicate the reality of today’s U.S. Government: a Government which doesn’t actually represent the American people.

This is the nonfictional, historical, version of George Orwell’s fictional novel, 1984. It is happening, right now.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Best National Government in North America: Mexico

At least that’s the hope of those who elected Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aka AMLO, aka Peje, on a platform of sweeping out the corruption — a platform promoted in Obrador’s book, A New Hope for Mexico. That Barack Obama did not permanently decommission the word “hope” for credible electoral campaigns on this continent may be the least of the book’s surprises.

Thus far 14,000 people in the United States have signed a letter that has made news in Mexico congratulating Obrador on his victory. Donald Trump is not one of them. Obrador campaigned against the Trumpian menace, denouncing his statements and policies toward Mexicans as akin to Hitler’s statements and policies toward Jews. While campaigns against foreign targets typically move a nation to the right, this one moved Mexico to the left. But, then, Obrador’s platform — unlike, say, that of the Democratic Party in the United States — is not simply anti-Trump. There’s a lot more to it.

In his book, Obrador denounces Trump’s budget proposals as moving money from housing, transportation, education, heath, justice, agriculture, development, and environmental protection to the military. Already he’s ahead of most Democrats who have pretended Trump was “cutting” the federal budget and acted as if the military didn’t exist.

Obrador goes on to blame this shift in priorities for the poor quality of life in the United States in comparison with Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Italy, and Spain. “Why, instead of blaming migrants,” asks Obrador, “don’t politicians speak honestly? . . . I am sure that the problems that plague Mexico and the U.S. could be resolved were the governments of both nations to commit to overcoming inequality, poverty, and corruption in their respective territories.”

“In recent years,” writes Obrador of Northern Mexico, “we’ve seen a policing problem escalate into a full-fledged ‘war’ that has claimed thousands of lives without achieving anything at all. . . . No one has been held accountable for the vast majority of these deaths.”

Despite peppering his book with such “nobody’s been held accountables,” Obrador also includes an Obamesque promise of immunity for all crimes due to the importance of looking forward. Yet most of his book could never be called Obamesque. He begins with a discussion of what Obama would call “our founding fathers” or “wise Wall Street advisors,” but Obrador refers to the Mexican equivalents of these groups as “a gang of thugs.” And he names names, including those of many previous Mexican presidents and various Mexican oligarchs.

Obrador opposes the financial corruption of the Mexican government, and promises to abolish it. He also promises New Deal-style jobs and education programs, agriculture, tourism, a duty-free zone along the U.S. border, and the top priority of serving the poor, not the rich. He promises vast savings through the ending of corrupt benefits and contracts, as well as through steps to keep resources in Mexico. Rather than export raw fossil fuels and then re-import them refined, Obrador wants to refine them in Mexico. Tragically, the fact that either policy will help render the entire earth uninhabitable does not seem to have crossed his mind. (If you think I’m not allowed to say that because I live in the top destroyer of the planet, the United States, I encourage you to think about what the consequences will be of still more people not saying that.)

The new President of Mexico says that migrants die in the Southwestern United States just as in the Mediterranean, but that U.S. media has a preference for one over the other. His comments on Trump’s incitement of racist violence are equally honest. Obrador made many of these comments in speeches in the United States, from which the book is compiled. He has countless kind things to say as well as tough ones. Not only does he cite the example of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in positive terms, but he even praises Woodrow Wilson as a global peace maker, omitting entirely his racism, his horrendous failure to shape a just peace at Versailles, and even his military adventures in Mexico.

Trump, writes Obrador, is acting like a Nazi, and his policies are criminal: “The plans to construct a border wall and persecute migrants in this country are in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.”

On March 15, 2017, in Washington, D.C., Obrador brought a complaint signed by over 11 million Mexican and U.S. citizens to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights challenging two executive orders by Trump from January 25, 2017, alleging that the orders “violate the presumption of innocence, disregard the right to asylum, ignore due process, and omit protections relevant to child migrants. . . . The United States of America is subject to its obligations under the American Declaration of Rights and Duties of Man according to the Statute of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as set out in Articles 20 and 51.”

The United States should be subject to the treaties it is party to. The problem is that in the United States corruption has been normalized, while compliance with the rule of law has not been.

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Should Al Qaeda Be Made the 51st State?

 Hear me out.

While Saudis have threatened Canada with a 9/11 attack, the U.S. has moved on to blaming 9/11 on Iran.

Al Qaeda, despite being Saudi in origins and ideology, was easily tied to Afghanistan, then Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, the Philippines, and Yemen, and now Iran. The potential is almost as endless as with Communism in the good old days.

Without Al Qaeda the United States would not be whole. With it, all is in perfect balance. If there were no Al Qaeda we’d have to invent one.

In fact, where there is no Al Qaeda, the effective policy has been to invent one. Pretending there’s been a major Al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan has worked wonders. Pretending Al Qaeda members all wanted to move to Afghanistan from which to destroy the United States, the moment the United States stopped bombing people and kicking in doors and paying off members of Al Qaeda or related groups in Afghanistan has been a gold mine.

Invading and occupying Iraq gave a whole new birth to Al Qaeda, which also mutated into ISIS, which has been a wonderful source of war fever. In Syria, the Pentagon and CIA have been able to arm and train various moderate murderous gangs to fight against each other. What could be better?

Well, the set-up now arranged in Yemen, that’s what! The United States ships billions of dollars of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, not to mention its purchases of oil. The United States ran a drone war on Yemen for years that it understood was giving birth and power to Al Qaeda in Yemen. Having successfully gotten a major war going, and created the worst human catastrophe on earth, The U.S.-Saudi alliance now passes millions of dollars to Al Qaeda fighters in Yemen in exchange for their leaving certain areas with their weapons and looted wealth, only to fight again elsewhere — and often to fight on the same side as the Saudis-Americans. The possibilities for proclaiming victories without risking ending the war are endless.

As in Syria, the U.S. and its allies want to overthrow a government while also fighting those who want to overthrow the government. But the former is the main goal, while the latter is the better propaganda. So Al Qaeda and the U.S. are on the same side in these wars, but as long as that’s not talked about too much, Al Qaeda is also the top generator of good will for the wars back in the U.S. of A., serving basically the purpose of a Donald Trump effigy anywhere else on earth.

Now, with the money being handed out to and spent fighting with and against Al Qaeda, the United States could easily choose instead some bleeding-heart liberal mamby pamby scheme like giving everyone food, water, medicine, schools, and housing, while stashing the remaining billions in the bank. But think what would happen, before acting rashly. People would start to like the United States rather than burning its flag. The environmental devastation of the wars might end, and people might have to face environmental catastrophe as a crisis to be addressed. And, most importantly, we might lose the ability to drain the U.S. economy of trillions of dollars for wars.

No, in the end we are clearly far better off with Al Qaeda. Bringing back the Russian menace is not working. It’s been made partisan, laughable, and just not viscerally frightening. It lacks a bit of racist kick. Al Qaeda is the answer. And its net impact on the bottom line at the Pentagon outpaces that of any of the other 50 states. It’s time we stopped imagining that the U.S. public would object to any inconsistency. It’s time we openly acknowledged our partners. Statehood for Al Qaeda now!

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The Fantasy of “Balanced Returns” Funding Retirement

The fantasy that a “balanced portfolio” yielding “balanced returns” will fund a stable retirement for decades to come is widely accepted as a sure thing:inflation will stay near-zero essentially forever, assets such as stocks and bonds will continue yielding hefty income and capital gains, and all the individual or fund needs to do is maintain a “balanced portfolio” of various asset classes that yield “balanced returns,” i.e. some safe “value” lower-yield returns and some higher risk “growth” returns.

This fantasy is based on the belief that yields will exceed real inflation for decades to come. That is, if inflation is 2%, and the average yield of a “balanced portfolio” is 6%, then the inflation-adjusted return is 4% annually–not great, but enough to secure retirement income.

What few dare ask is: what happens if inflation is 7% and yields drop to 2%?Then the retirement fund loses 5% of its purchasing power every year. In a decade, the fund’s value will decline by roughly half.

Oops. Analysts such as John Hussman have been pointing out that historically, eras of outsized returns such as the past decade are followed by eras of low or even negative returns. So assuming a “balanced portfolio” of corporate and sovereign bonds, growth stocks, index funds, etc. will yield 6% to 7% like clockwork is essentially betting that this time is different: high growth will never pause or reverse.

But let’s say things really unravel, and inflation is 8% and yields are negative 2% for a few years. Retirement funds will lose 10% of their purchasing power every year. In a few years, the fund will lose half its value.

What happens if the current “everything” asset bubble pops, and inflation starts running away from policy makers? It’s worth recalling that declines on the order of 75% to 80% are common when bubbles finally pop–for example, the NASDAQ stock index post-2000.

If inflation (i.e. the currency loses purchasing power) gets out of hand due to excessive money creation to fund interest on debt, entitlements and obligations, the only cure is to raise interest rates significantly. Higher rates destroy the value of existing bonds and they strangle speculation and debt-dependent projects and spending.

Higher rates means corporations, governments and households must pay more each month in interest, leaving less income for spending and investment.Unfortunately, the global economy is largely dependent on rapidly expanding debt for its survival. As this chart shows, the tiny reduction in debt expansion in 2008-09 very nearly collapsed the global financial system.

Only the conjuring of $20 trillion out of thin air by central banks saved the day and the decade.

Counting on endless real returns of 5% or more essentially forever is embracing a fantasy. Never mind what asset mix is considered “balanced”– bubbles pop, and when the “everything” bubble pops, it means stocks, bonds and real estate will all experience significant declines, and if history is any guide catastrophic declines in some asset classes.

That central banks and governments can create endless mountains of new money to fund soaring obligations without triggering a decline in purchasing power is also a fantasy. As I’ve explained in the past, it seems like central banks have created a financial perpetual motion machine: the government borrows $1 trillion to fund obligations, and the central bank “prints” $1 trillion and buys the government debt.

It seems so painless and perfect–who cares if the central bank balance sheet balloons to $100 trillion? We owe it to ourselves, the government can’t go broke since it can always print more money, etc.

The grim reality is printing trillions and pumping that newly issued currency into a stagnant, dysfunctional economy reduces the purchasing power of the currency, i.e. inflation. To use a health analogy, we’ve been gorging on doughnuts, pizza and beer for a decade, and since we’re still apparently disease free, we assume we can keep enjoying this diet for decades to come.

The consequences of systemic sclerosis are non-linear, meaning they pile up unseen until the major organs give out and the apparently disease free individual collapses in a heap.

Consider how a “balanced portfolio” yielding “balanced returns” worked out for middle class retirees in Venezuela:

 

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