What’s Holding Up the Market?

What’s holding up the U.S. stock market? The facile answer is the Federal Reserve (“the Fed has our back,” “don’t fight the Fed,” etc.) but this doesn’t actually describe the mechanisms in play or the consequences of a market that levitates ever higher on the promise of more Fed money-for-nothing injected into the diseased veins of the financial system.

As Gordon T. Long and I discuss in our latest half-hour video program, What’s Holding the Market Up? (34 minutes), the primary prop under stock valuations are corporate buybacks, which total in the trillions of dollars since the 2008-09 Global Financial Meltdown and the Fed’s “rescue of the rich,” which continues to this day.

Rather than risk capital in productive investments, U.S. corporations have borrowed trillions of dollars and used the cash to buy back their own shares. The Fed’s suppression of interest rates has incentivized stock buybacks in several ways:

1. When it’s cheap to borrow billions, the biggest bang for the buck is to use the borrowed bucks to buy back shares, which creates an illusion of growth as per-share sales and earnings both rise as shares are withdrawn from the public market.

Let’s say a company has a million shares outstanding and earns a net profit of $1 million. The per-share net profit is thus $1 per share. If the company borrows money and buys back 500,000 shares of its own stock, the per-share net earnings double to $2 per share.

Presto-magico, the company appears to be more profitable, and so its valuation based on its price-to-earnings ratio (P-E) adjusts higher, even though revenues and earnings have remained stagnant.

2. If a corporation piles up cash, it becomes an attractive target for acquisition. The way to avoid being taken over is to pile up debt (borrow money or sell corporate bonds, swapping debt for equity) and use the funds to buy back shares. As the corporation’s remaining shares soar in value, the company can use its own shares to acquire rivals.

These perverse incentives are the heart of the Federal Reserve’s policies, as depicted here: as real economic growth has slowed, the Fed’s largesse of cheap money has flowed into corporate buybacks because that’s what’s incentivized.

The Fed’s nearly free money for financiers policies in support of the Super-Rich do not exist in a vacuum–the disastrous consequences are already baked in. As Gordon’s chart shows, Fed policies effectively replace capitalism (investing capital productively and accepting risk) with creditism, a debt-dependent speculative system that transfers risk to the Fed and the taxpayers (i.e. profits are private, losses are socialized).

Needless to say, this doesn’t end well, as expanding credit and borrowing to fund speculation and consumption inevitably ends in a currency crisis that devalues the currency for everyone, rich and poor alike.

There’s much more in our video discussion:

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 ebook, $12 print, $13.08 audiobook): Read the first section for free in PDF format.

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Update on the MH17 Case

Eric Zuesse

The Netherlands Government is resisting an effort by Dutch victims’ families to find out why Ukraine’s Government, on 17 July 2014 — when the Malaysian airliner MH17 was shot down while flying over Ukraine’s civil-war zone — this passenger-plane had been guided by Ukraine’s air-traffic control to fly through, instead of around (as it instructed other airliners), the war-zone. On 1 October 2019, now more than five years after 196 Dutch nationals had died from that incident, Holland’s RTL News headlined (as autotranslated into English) “Cabinet considers research into Ukraine’s role in disaster MH17”, and reported that “The cabinet will examine whether further research is possible on the role of Ukraine in the disaster with flight MH17,” because “A proposal … for the investigation received the support of all Parties present in the second chamber” of Holland’s parliament. This news-report said that, “So far, the cabinet has not taken any steps against Ukraine. As far as we know, nothing is happening behind the scenes.” Furthermore: “Last year, the Netherlands, together with Australia, decided to make Russia as a country liable. For the liability of Ukraine, according to the cabinet, there was ‘no evidence’ and also ‘no research needed’.” Moreover, Dutch Foreign Minister Stefan Blok said that “We don’t see any reason for an investigation” into that, because “The government is trying to maintain its relationship with Ukraine,” and “because then both the airspace of Ukraine and that of Russia should be looked at,” and because “there are still no indications that Ukraine can also be held liable.” But actually, from the very start of that investigation, there has been a secret agreement not to blame Ukraine for anything having to do with the incident. This agreement is kept secret from the Dutch people. Blok, in resisting to investigate why the MH17 was guided over the civil-war zone, was simply adhering to the secret agreement that Netherlands had signed with Ukraine on 8 August 2014. If he were to agree to the families’ demand, he still would be obligated, by Holland’s 8 August 2014 agreement with Ukraine, to find Ukraine not to have perpetrated the downing. But the families don’t know this.

As I reported back on 24 August 2014, a secret agreement had been signed on August 8th between Netherlands, Ukraine, Belgium, and Australia, that Ukraine would have veto-power over any finding that their official “Joint Investigation Team” (“JIT”) would issue regarding the shoot-down of the MH17. Malaysia was excluded from the Team, but was finally admitted, after agreeing to their secret terms — including not to blame Ukraine. Russia’s RT headlined on 20 November 2014 “Dutch government refuses to reveal ‘secret deal’ into MH17 crash probe” and revealed that the Dutch Government was refusing to comply with its own Freedom of Information law by keeping this agreement secret. On 14 June 2016, the website “What Happened to Flight MH17” headlined “The vague role of Malaysia in the Joint Investigation Team” and reported that the JIT had actually been officially formed on 7 August 2014, and noted that, “In the limited number of public communications by JIT it is not mentioned what the role of Malaysia is in the criminal investigation.” (Malaysia, unlike those other four nations, isn’t a member of America’s core anti-Russia alliance, which includes NATO and Australia, but is instead a neutral nation and therefore considered untrustworthy by the others.) Subsequently, on 21 July 2019, John Helmer and Max van der Werff revealed that Malaysia’s Government rejects the ‘findings’ by the JIT (which, with no reservations, blame Russia for downing the MH17), but that Malaysia isn’t violating the 8 August 2014 secret agreement, since Malaysia isn’t saying Ukraine did it. Instead, Malaysia is saying that further investigations are needed, and that Malaysia possesses the black boxes and other crucial evidence.

The present report is an update regarding the entire matter of the shoot-down on 17 July 2014 of the MH17 Malaysian airliner over the breakaway Donetsk region of Ukraine. The additional facts which will be reported here regarding the MH17 incident shock me. I knew that U.S. President Barack Obama had become desperate for something to happen that would persuade German Chancellor Angela Merkel to endorse added sanctions against Russia regarding Ukraine, but I had had no idea, until now, as to what direct involvement, if any, he had had in the actual setting-up of the MH17 shoot-down. All of the source-evidence for the following can be clicked-through-to here by the reader, and this is important to do, for any reader who is skeptical (as all ought to be) and who wants to see source-evidence, for any assertion that seems outlandish. It’s important especially because the case which will be presented here stuns even me, who had voted three times for Obama, first in his 2008 primary against Hillary Clinton, then once again in his 2008 general election contest against Republican John McCain; and then, finally, once more, yet again, in his 2012 general election contest against Republican Mitt Romney (who, incidentally, right now, is arguing for Trump’s impeachment and replacement by Mike Pence; and who is famous for having said, in his 2012 campaign against Obama, that “Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe”). I knew that Obama was the lesser of two evils, but I now recognize that I had had no idea of how evil that actually was. Here I shall report what I now know. This extensively documented reconstruction, of the MH17 incident and of how it came about, seems to me to disprove the fundamental Western ‘historical’ narrative about contemporary international relations, and to signal the necessity for a fundamental rewrite of the mainstream view of world history in our era. At the very least, it disproves that view — the mainstream view or ‘history’ of our time. Whatever the truth might be, it certainly cannot be anything even approximating that ‘historical’ mainstream. Mainstream recent ‘history’ is, now more clearly than ever before, a sinister and carefully orchestrated myth, as will be demonstrated here in what follows.

The essential background information regarding the MH17 must be presented at the start, and it’s accurately portrayed in an 11-minute video. The first-ever news-report to display and assemble in an easily comprehensible way all of the crucial facts constituting the background context that’s necessary in order to understand the MH17 event and what caused it, was an 11-minute video compilation, which was uploaded to youtube on 12 March 2014, and which you can see here. It’s 100% true, nothing at all deceptive in any way, and it still remains, in my opinion (after my seeing it around 50 times and considering it from a multitude of different perspectives), absolutely a masterpiece, the only perfect public-affairs video that I have ever seen. Beyond that essential background information to the MH17 event, now follows (and entirely within that factual background-context), a summary in more detail, focusing in, or zooming onto, the MH17 event itself, more closely:

This will be a summary, which — since it might seem incredible to anyone who doesn’t already know the evidence — will immediately be followed by the evidence, all clickable here to each source (though not necessarily via only a single click). The first sentence of the summary will summarize the essential background information to the MH17 event — meaning here only information on the background that’s essential in order to be able to understand the context in which the information that is to be newly introduced here regarding the MH17 event will fit into that bigger picture — and this opening sentence will therefore itself be linked to more-detailed summaries of key aspects of that background part, each aspect of which itself contains links to all of the source-evidences there regarding that aspect of the deepest background, so that the full background will be accessible from the links that are provided here, and the new information, which is to be provided at the end, will be entirely understandable within the context of that full background.

Here, then, is the overall summary, including the heavily-linked opening sentence regarding this event’s deep background:

President Obama not only perpetrated the February 2014 bloody coup in Ukraine which he had started by no later than 2011 to plan and placed into operation on 1 March 2013 inside the U.S. Embassy in Kiev (months before the democratically elected Ukrainian President whom he was to overthrow decided for Ukraine not to accept the EU’s offer of membership), but Obama and his NATO were so determined to reverse the coup’s resulting breakaway, from Ukraine, of Ukraine’s two most anti-nazi districts, Crimea and Donetsk, that Obama and his NATO then set up the shoot-down of the MH17 airliner by Obama’s newly-installed nazi Ukrainian government, with the objective being to promptly blame it against Russia. Obama was, at that time, in early July 2014, desperate for there to be a pretext on which the European Union would join the U.S. in greatly hiking sanctions against Russia regarding Ukraine. What the most-recent information will show is this: Obama and his NATO were intending to use this false accusation against Russia as a pretext not only to hike anti-Russia sanctions but ultimately to invade both Donetsk and Crimea and risk WW III in order to coerce those two regions back again into Ukraine — now to become (like the rest of Ukraine) under the control of the U.S. regime. The reasons why that plan failed (was aborted) were, first, that Malaysia’s Government held in international law the unchallengeable right of ownership over the airliner’s black boxes; and, second, that there was especially one member of NATO, Angela Merkel, who refused to risk WW III and to join into Obama’s extremely psychopathic scheme, since it risked the whole world over his determination to grab the entirety of Ukraine. Obama always refused to proceed forward with a geostrategic plan if it was strongly opposed by at least one core ally — in this particular instance, he knew enough not to drive Germany to abandon NATO and to ally with Russia (especially since Russia itself was his actual target in his coup to take over Ukraine). By declining to move forward without Merkel, all of those immediate risks to the world were avoided. Furthermore, Malaysia’s holding the black boxes was especially a problem for Obama and NATO, because any preparation for a U.S.-NATO invasion of Donbass and Crimea would spark Malaysia to go public with what it already knew about the U.S.-NATO lies regarding the MH17 incident. Obama possessed no ability to prevent that response from Malaysia. Not only Germany, but also Malaysia, possessed power in this situation, and Obama, fortunately, yielded to it. (Of course, the great worry about Trump is that if he gets into a similar situation, he might move forward regardless.)

Also noteworthy — especially for Dutch citizens and the families of the passengers on that airliner — the Netherlands Government had been one of the largest financial backers of the February 2014 U.S.-planned overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected President. For example, it was the largest single donor, listed at $793,089, to Hromadske TV, which was the leading station that advocated for forcing that President out of power. Whereas the U.S. Government had organized and ran the overthrow, and spent far more on it (over $5 billion) than did any other nation or individual, the U.S. was only the second-largest donor to that station, at $399,650. So: Holland’s government had a significant investment in the post-coup regime, even before that post-coup regime shot down the MH17 plane and thereby slaughtered its 283 passengers, of whom 196 were Dutch. This is yet another reason why the Dutch Government’s heading this investigation in which Ukraine — another member — should be a suspect but is instead a juror, nullifies any rational authority to its ‘findings’.

One of my more important early news-reports regarding the MH17 case was the 24 August 2014 “MH-17 ‘Investigation’: Secret August 8th Agreement Seeps Out”, which article, referenced near the opening of the present article, documented that the secret agreement amongst the 4-party official MH17 ‘investigative’ team — Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, and Ukraine — gave each one of those governments an absolute veto over any public announcement or ‘finding’ from the ‘investigation’, so that if Ukraine, which was a prime suspect in the incident, were to disapprove a ‘finding’, then the team wouldn’t be allowed to issue it. This is like giving a murder-suspect veto-power over the investigation into the murder. It shows how poisoned that whole official ‘investigation’ was, even at its very start. This is important to understand.

Another especially relevant news-report from me was the 7 June 2015 “Obama Sidelines Kerry on Ukraine Policy”, which noted that Obama supported the position of Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, who favored the U.S. backing an all-out invasion of Crimea and Donbass by Ukraine, and that Obama rejected the position of her boss, John Kerry, the Secretary of State, who opposed that policy. “Kerry, for his part, now faces the decision as to whether to quit … or else for Kerry to stay in office and be disrespected in all capitals for his staying on after having been so blatantly contradicted by his subordinate.” (This wasn’t the only instance when Obama trashed Kerry’s work: he likewise did it when Kerry favored the U.S. agreeing with Russia that, in a Syrian-war cease-fire, not only ISIS but also Al Qaeda-led forces in Syria could continue to be bombed. Russia was bombing both, but Obama refused to accept a ceasefire in which Russia would be allowed to continue its bombing of Al Qaeda, not only of ISIS. It was the ultimate humiliation of Kerry, and effectively ended his career in government.) This displays Obama’s profound hatred of Russia.

My last major report on MH17 was on 31 December 2018, “MH17 Turnabout: Ukraine’s Guilt Now Proven”. That presents conclusive checkmate against the U.S.-NATO case blaming Russia for MH17 (that case being run by the Netherlands Government, which simply ignores its case having become disproven by that evidence).

Here’s the more-recent report, what I did not previously know, which comes from the great independent Western journalist living in Moscow, John Helmer; and presented here are the highlights from his report — a report that fills-in crucial additional details of the same historical narrative that I have previously documented regarding the MH17 incident:

“MH17 Evidence Tampering Revealed by Malaysia – FBI Attempt to Seize Black Boxes; Dutch Cover-Up of Forged Telephone Tapes; Ukrainian Air Force Hid Radar Records; Crash Site Witness Testimony Misreported”

John Helmer, 21 July 2019

A new documentary from Max van der Werff, the leading independent investigator of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 disaster, has revealed breakthrough evidence of tampering and forging of prosecution materials; suppression of Ukrainian Air Force radar tapes; and lying by the Dutch, Ukrainian, US and Australian governments. An attempt by agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to take possession of the black boxes of the downed aircraft is also revealed by a Malaysian National Security Council official for the first time.

The sources of the breakthrough are Malaysian — Prime Minister of Malaysia Mohamad Mahathir; Colonel Mohamad Sakri, the officer in charge of the MH17 investigation for the Prime Minister’s Department and Malaysia’s National Security Council following the crash on July 17, 2014; and a forensic analysis by Malaysia’s OG IT Forensic Services of Ukrainian Secret Service (SBU) telephone tapes which Dutch prosecutors have announced as genuine. …

Watch it in full here. …

The film reveals the Malaysian Government’s evidence for judging the [Joint Investigative Team] JIT’s witness testimony, photographs, video clips, and telephone tapes to have been manipulated by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), and to be inadmissible in a criminal prosecution in a Malaysian or other national or international court.

For the first time also, the Malaysian Government reveals how it got in the way of attempts the US was organizing during the first week after the crash to launch a NATO military attack on eastern Ukraine. The cover story for that was to rescue the plane, passenger bodies, and evidence of what had caused the crash. In fact, the operation was aimed at defeating the separatist movements in the Donbass, and to move against Russian-held Crimea.

The new film reveals that a secret Malaysian military operation took custody of the MH17 black boxes on July 22, preventing the US and Ukraine from seizing them. The Malaysian operation, revealed in the film by the Malaysian Army colonel who led it, eliminated the evidence for the camouflage story, reinforcing the German Government’s opposition to the armed attack, and forcing the Dutch to call off the invasion on July 27. …

Although German opposition to military intervention forced its cancellation, the Australians sent a 200-man special forces unit to The Netherlands and then Kiev. …

The new film reveals in an interview with Colonel Mohamad Sakri, the head of the Malaysian team, what happened next. Sakri’s evidence, filmed in his office at Putrajaya, is the first to be reported by the press outside Malaysia in five years. A year ago, Sakri gave a partial account of his mission to a Malaysian newspaper.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/

“I talked to my prime minister [Najib],” Colonel Sakri says. “He directed me to go to the crash site immediately.” At the time Sakri was a senior security official at the Disaster Management Division of the Prime Minister’s Department. Sakri says that after arriving in Kiev, Poroshenko’s officials blocked the Malaysians. “We were not allowed to go there…so I took a small team to leave Kiev going to Donetsk secretly.”

Sakri goes on to say he was asked by the [nominally nonpartisan] OSCE’s special monitoring mission for Ukraine to hand over the black boxes; he refused. He was then met by agents of the FBI (Min 6:56). “They approached me to show them the black box. I said no.” He also reports that in Kiev the Ukrainian Government tried “forcing me to leave the black boxes with them. We said no. We cannot. We cannot allow.”

The handover ceremony in Donetsk, July 22, 2014: on far left, the two black boxes from MH17; in the centre, shaking hands, Alexander Borodai and Mohamad Sakri. …

Van der Werff and Yerlashova contracted with OG IT Forensic Services, a Malaysian firm specializing in forensic analysis of audio, video and digital materials for court proceedings, to examine the telephone tapes. The Kuala Lumpur firm has been endorsed by the Malaysian Bar. The full 143-page technical report can be read here.

The findings reported by Akash Rosen and illustrated on camera are that the telephone recordings have been cut, edited and fabricated. The source of the tapes, according to the JIT press conference on June 19 by Dutch police officer Paulissen, head of the National Criminal Investigation Service of The Netherlands, was the Ukrainian SBU. Similar findings of tape fabrication and evidence tampering are reported on camera in the van der Werff film by a German analyst, Norman Ritter. …

CLOSING NOTE: The present article was offered as an exclusive to virtually all mainstream news-media in the U.S. and its major allied countries, none of which responded. It therefore is not copyrighted, and is instead available to all news-media, free of charge, for publication. Readers are therefore encouraged to distribute it to others without any limitation.

—————

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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Democracy Is Now a Hindrance to the Imperial State

If we step back from the histrionics of impeachment and indeed, the past four years of political circus, we have to wonder if America’s democracy is little more than an elaborate simulation, a counterfeit democracy that matches our counterfeit capitalism (Matt Stoller’s term).

If we review the mechanics of our “democracy,” we find that swapping which party controls Congress doesn’t really change the policies of The Imperial State, the central state that oversees America’s global commercial and geopolitical empire.

Next, consider the high return rate of incumbents. Once in power, politicos can skim the millions of dollars in campaign contributions needed to win re-election.

Then there’s the some are more equal than others nature of the judicial system that serves the interests of financial and political elites: Bernie Madoff was free to continue his Ponzi scheme for years despite whistleblower attempts to instigate a federal investigation, and pedophile /schmoozer / “intelligence agency asset” Jeffrey Epstein was free to exploit underage teens and pile up $200 million after a wrist-slap conviction.

The corporate mass media is the PR machine for the Imperial State. If the state seeks to sell the public a war of choice, the media dutifully pounds the drums of war. If the Imperial State decides to disempower a president or other elected official, the media will hound the elected official until he/she is disgraced or buried, too busy fighting off the ceaseless media propaganda to function. The mass media excels at ruthlessly mocking political targets, reducing their stature in the public eye and undermining their “soft power.”

As for presidents: as long as the prez follows the Imperial minders’ orders, everything will be fine. Cross the minders and you’re out. The perfect presidential candidate from the perspective of the Eastern Establishment / National Security State was Bush I: Eastern Establishment blue-blood, Yale, combat military service, and stints in high offices, including high-level diplomacy and the CIA.

Bush I famously lacked “the vision thing,” but presidents only need “the vision thing” during the campaign–witness Obama’s “hope and change” slogan. Once elected, they just need to follow the Imperial script, which includes a permanent PR campaign touting “democracy” as a necessary facade for the actual workings of the Imperial State.

Bush I was the ideal Imperial State president because he understood the need for the velvet glove of diplomacy, the most important element of which is an orchestrated demonstration of Imperial restraint. This also includes healthy dollops of PR about the sanctity of our alliances, which are heavily promoted as the acme of win-win cooperation, etc. He also understood the essential role of America’s commercial Empire: the US dollar, US banking and US corporate interests around the world.

Imperial State handlers cannot tolerate loose-cannon presidents, those who keep their own council and who act outside the “recommended guidelines,” for example, trying to make peace with rivals and enemies that the Imperial State cultivates as “enemies” for its own purposes.

John F. Kennedy appeared to be the ideal Imperial State president: wealthy Eastern Establishment, Harvard, combat military service, informal diplomatic experience via his father’s connections, an enthusiastic supporter of the Imperial State’s Cold War and a youthful politician with superb communication skills who the mass media fell for hook, line and sinker.

Once Kennedy soured on the CIA, things got dicey. The ideal president quickly became less ideal as his independence grew.

The Imperial State and mass media always feared and hated Richard Nixon, a poker player who kept his cards hidden and who surrounded himself with loyalists and outsiders, a rogue politician who could upstage the Imperial State’s agenda by private diplomacy (opening relations with China) or expanding wars of choice (the invasion of Cambodia).

Nixon’s cabinet was well-stocked with Establishment pros, but they were largely figureheads when it came to the bold private diplomatic moves Nixon favored. In other words, Nixon was the Imperial State’s nightmare president.

Just to show that the Imperial State plays no favorites in party affiliations, the State and its media organs also hated Jimmy Carter, another independent who wandered outside the “recommended guidelines” and had to be destroyed via endless mockery and the undermining of his initiatives.

(Maintaining the circus entertainment of party politics is a core function of the mass media.)

The Imperial State was deeply distrustful of Reagan, hence the constant media mockery and the attempt to unseat him via the Iran-Contra Affair. But Reagan was smart enough to surround himself with insiders (Cap Weinberger, James Baker et al.) and popular enough to fend off the constant media attacks, much to the media’s intense frustration (hence their mocking description of Reagan as the “Teflon president.” How dare he survive our campaign to undermine and destroy him!)

Bush II was no Bush I, but he followed orders and never strayed from the “recommended guidelines.” The same can be said of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, telegenic communicators in the Kennedy mold.

Needless to say, the Imperial State and its media organs loathe Trump, the loosest cannon imaginable. Hillary Clinton had proven herself a reliable water carrier for the Imperial State, and so her election was elaborately planned and staged: potentially loose cannon Bernie Sanders was shivved in the primaries by the Democratic Party, and the champagne was chilled for Hillary’s victory.

Alas, the party was crashed in a most unforgivable fashion, and the Imperial State’s war on Trump has been unremitting and ham-handedly obvious.

Democracy is the coat of paint applied for PR purposes to the Imperial State. “Democracy” is only tolerated if it follows the approved script. The Republic is good PR, but the Empire makes the rules and the scripts that elected officials follow, and woe to anyone who wins an election they were supposed to lose or who strays too far from the “recommended guidelines.” (Imperial enemies must remain enemies until the Empire decides otherwise.)

Democracy has always been a “problem” for the Imperial State to manage, but now it is a hindrance to Imperial pretensions and power that is setting up an existential crisis unlike any other in American history.

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 ebook, $12 print, $13.08 audiobook): Read the first section for free in PDF format.

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Is Peace Possible?

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U.S. Out of Italy

English below the italian

L’Italia dovrebbe fare amicizia con il pubblico degli Stati Uniti e del mondo cacciando le basi militari statunitensi.

Di David Swanson

Alla fine degli anni ’80, quando ero un adolescente e uno studente di scambio a Bassano del Grappa, amavo l’Italia per le stesse ragioni per cui l’amo ancora, ragioni che includono le bellezze naturali, quelle create dall’uomo, e la bellezza umana.

Ho trovato gli italiani in generale amichevoli, gentili, generosi, amorevoli, divertenti, umili, autocritici, e intelligenti. Potrebbe anche avermi aiutato un po’ il fatto che quando dicevo agli altri giovani che ero degli Stati Uniti, in genere pensavano fosse una cosa fantastica. Gli anziani dicevano che gli Stati Uniti avevano salvato l’Italia dal nazismo.

Non sapevo abbastanza per rispondere che il governo e le élite statunitensi avevano alimentato l’ascesa del nazismo, che aveva attinto ai finanziamenti di Wall Street, alle leggi sulla segregazione degli Stati Uniti, ai programmi di eugenetica degli Stati Uniti, ai campi statunitensi per i nativi americani, e al sostegno del governo degli Stati Uniti.

Non sapevo abbastanza per sottolineare che l’idea degli Stati Uniti come salvatori veniva mantenuta viva per l’incapacità di ritirare le truppe statunitensi dall’Italia, perché dovevano restare allo scopo di aggredire altri paesi per tutt’altre ragioni che salvare le persone dal nazismo.

Non sapevo che il governo degli Stati Uniti vedessesse la Russia come una minaccia per le grandi ricchezze, la disuguaglianza, e il dominio globale, e considerasse l’Unione Sovietica come il nemico principale anche durante l’ascesa del nazismo e del fascismo, fino alla guerra ed oltre.

Non sapevo che gli Stati Uniti si fossero lasciati alle spalle truppe, sabotatori, e spie, avessero interferito nella politica italiana, e visto l’Italia dal primo giorno (il primo giorno nella cultura degli Stati Uniti è il Pearl Harbor Day) come un pezzo di un impero da imporre nel nome dell’anti-imperialismo.

Non avevo idea che ci fosse più di un modo per salvare un popolo o salvarsi. Avevo frequentato le migliori scuole che gli Stati Uniti avevano da offrire, e nessuno mi aveva detto che le campagne non violente avevano rovesciato la tirannia e persino le occupazioni straniere più delle campagne violente. Se l’Italia fosse stata salvata in un tempo antico di cui non sapevo nulla, e se ciò in qualche modo spiegasse perché era normale che ci fossero truppe statunitensi a Vicenza, chi ero io per dubitarne?

Ho fatto amicizia con uno di quei militari statunitensi, ho saltato la scuola e sono andato a sciare con lui. Era un bravo ragazzo, non c’era violenza in lui. Nessuno mi aveva detto quello che hanno fatto le forze armate statunitensi, che hanno detenuto illegalmente armi nucleari in Italia, che hanno avvelenato la Sardegna praticando omicidi di massa, che far volare gli aeroplani negli impianti di risalita non era un prezzo da pagare per qualcosa di necessario ma un prezzo da pagare per qualcosa di sociopatico.

Gli italiani mi hanno detto che la cosa più offensiva che le truppe statunitensi hanno fatto è stata indossare jeans blu per andare a sciare.

Non avevo mai sentito parlare di Evian, in Francia, non lontano dall’Italia e il sito di una delle conferenze in cui i governi del mondo decisero pubblicamente e senza vergogna di non accettare gli ebrei fuori dalla Germania.

Non avevo mai sentito parlare di Veterans For Peace o di uno degli eroi di quel gruppo, Smedley Butler. Era il più decorato Marine statunitense di tutti i tempi, un generale modello, famoso, un eroe per tutti gli amanti della guerra e tutti i veterani.

Era stato incarcerato per aver dichiarato pubblicamente che Benito Mussolini aveva investito una bambina con la sua auto e fatto qualche osservazione casuale solo guardando avanti mentre accelerava.

Parlare male di Mussolini era un male per le relazioni USA-Italia. Il governo degli Stati Uniti adorava Mussolini. Quindi, Smedley è stato arrestato.

Successivamente però le persone più ricche degli Stati Uniti hanno cercato di assumere Smedley per condurre un colpo di stato fascista contro il presidente Roosevelt. Gli storici pensano che avrebbe potuto avere successo, tranne per il fatto che Smedley andò al Congresso e denunciò tutto. Ha anche denunciato la guerra e la sua stessa carriera come un crimine contro l’umanità.

Anni dopo, quando sapevo un po’ di ciò che avrei dovuto, ho visitato Vicenza per partecipare alle proteste contro l’espansione della base. Ho anche incontrato i membri del Congresso degli Stati Uniti a Washington insieme a Cinzia Bottene e Thea Valentina Garbellin, due dei leader della resistenza di No Dal Molin alle basi. Ricordo che i membri del Congresso e il personale volevano fare una sola domanda: se non a Vicenza, dove dovremmo mettere una base? E Thea e Cinzia, al loro eterno merito, risposero: da nessuna parte! – che era molto più educato di dove gli avrei detto io di mettersela.

Le basi USA e NATO non stanno aiutando l’Italia. Non stanno proteggendo l’Italia . . . bene, da cosa? Non ci sono nemici. Gli Stati Uniti spendono metà della spesa militare mondiale. Le altre nazioni della NATO sono assillate da Donald Trump perchè spendano un altro quarto. Sono tre quarti delle spese militari mondiali. Le nazioni della NATO rappresentano anche circa i tre quarti delle vendite di armi straniere.

Le regioni del globo con la maggior parte delle guerre quasi non producono armi. Gli Stati Uniti vendono armi al 73% delle nazioni che considera dittature e ne addestrano la maggior parte. Le guerre degli Stati Uniti e della NATO generano nemici. Eppure, quando guardi i funzionari degli Stati Uniti provare a spiegare al Congresso perché hanno bisogno di oltre 1 trilione di dollari per combattere i loro nemici, i risultati sono comici.

La Russia spende qualche percento di ciò che la NATO spende in guerra. Un recente attacco di droni a un impianto petrolifero saudita, che apparentemente era molto più grave del bombardamento di esseri umani nello Yemen, è costato meno del debito studentesco di un singolo studente universitario americano e non sarebbe potuto accadere senza la fabbricazione, guidata dagli Stati Uniti, di droni da guerra e l’assalto genocida appoggiato dagli Stati Uniti contro lo Yemen.

Quindi, i membri del Congresso affermano spudoratamente che l’espansione della NATO al confine con la Russia è un programma per creare lavoro per le fabbriche di armi negli Stati Uniti. Quando Jack Matlock lo disse a Vladimir Putin questi lo guardò come se fosse pazzo. E i funzionari militari statunitensi ammettono anonimamente ai giornali statunitensi che l’intera nuova guerra fredda è guidata dal desiderio di dare lavoro alla NATO ed all’esercito e mantenere il flusso dei profitti della vendita di armi, anche se gli economisti ti diranno che la spesa per la guerra è la cosa peggiore possibile per un’economia .

La NATO ha ora bombardato illegalmente e disastrosamente la Bosnia-Erzegovina, il Kosovo, la Serbia, l’Afghanistan, il Pakistan e la Libia, ha esacerbato le tensioni con la Russia e aumentato il rischio di apocalisse nucleare. Ma i media statunitensi ci dicono che la NATO è un modo per cooperare con i nostri amici in Europa, -come se non ci fossero modi non violenti per cooperare con qualcuno – e che la NATO è un modo per legalizzare le guerre, come se un crimine non fosse un crimine quando tu metti insieme una banda per farlo.

E la malattia mentale chiamata militarismo ha messo così tante radici in Europa che si stanno sviluppando i piani per un esercito europeo. La soluzione alla NATO non è clonarla.

Ciò che sosteniamo con World BEYOND War è che, non solo nessuna guerra può essere giusta di per sè, ma che nessuna guerra può raggiungere il segno infinitamente più alto di giustificare l’esistenza dell’istituzione della guerra.

Il tre percento delle spese militari statunitensi potrebbe porre fine alla fame a livello globale; poco più dell’1 percento potrebbe porre fine alla mancanza di acqua potabile pulita. Una fetta un po’ più grande di spesa militare potrebbe mettere in atto uno sforzo serio, e quasi non sognato, per ridurre la catastrofe ambientale che stiamo affrontando.

Convertire piccole parti del bilancio militare in aiuti umanitari renderebbe una nazione amata e onorata in tutto il mondo, anzichè detestata. La guerra è una delle principali cause della distruzione ambientale, della crisi dei rifugiati, dell’erosione delle libertà civili, della militarizzazione della polizia e della cultura, del razzismo e della xenofobia, e del rischio di apocalisse nucleare.

Costruendo una coalizione che si opponga alla guerra ed a tutti gli altri mali a cui contribuisce, potremo trovare la forza ed il potere di cambiare le cose. Questo è il motivo per cui molti di noi abbiamo rischiato l’arresto per chiudere Washington per il clima il 23 settembre.

World BEYOND War sta lavorando su tre aree. Una è l’educazione. Parliamo con una classe del college e in meno di un’ora praticamente tutti gli studenti sono commossi e decisi ad abbandonare la comune convinzione che a volte la guerra sia giustificata.

Un altro è il disinvestimento. Stiamo ottenendo che governi locali, università, e fondi di investimento tolgano i loro fondi dalle armi.

Il terzo è chiudere le basi. Credo che l’Italia dovrebbe fare amicizia con il pubblico degli Stati Uniti e le persone del mondo cacciando le basi statunitensi. Consiglio di mostrare ampiamente il video di CNGNN intitolato “Italy is One Big U.S./NATO Military Base”.

In secondo luogo, far sapere a tutti negli Stati Uniti quanto pagano per le basi, le truppe, le armi, e le guerre correlate. Dir loro che vuoi farli risparmiare. Amano i soldi.

Terzo, far tutto il possibile per infastidire Donald Trump e spingerlo a chiedere all’Italia di pagare tasse più elevate per il privilegio di essere occupato dalle basi statunitensi.

In quarto luogo, indagare sull’avvelenamento dell’acqua potabile vicino a ciascuna base degli Stati Uniti per sostanze chimiche permanenti cancerogene che ucciderannno per sempre e che hanno fatto ammalare e ucciso persone nelle basi degli Stati Uniti in tutto il mondo.

Questi prodotti chimici si trovano nella schiuma utilizzata per le esercitazioni di spegnimento degli incendi e gran parte del mondo utilizza alternative sicure.

In quinto luogo, assicurarsi che ogni persona in Italia sappia cosa sta pagando e che gli Stati Uniti possono combattere le loro guerre senza basi italiane o straniere perché hanno aeroplani, ed infine sappia che gli Stati Uniti considerano l’Italia una colonia e costruiscono le loro basi e avvelenano l’ambiente senza concedere alcun diritto agli italiani, e sappia che Donald Trump pensa che siamo degli idioti, e sappia che milioni di persone negli Stati Uniti sarebbero elettrizzate se l’Italia si dichiarasse una nazione pacifica e neutrale .

A proposito, una legge approvata dalla Camera degli Stati Uniti ma non ancora dal Senato richiederebbe che ogni base straniera degli Stati Uniti sia giustificata, cioè renda in qualche modo gli Stati Uniti più sicuri. Quindi, vi preghiamo di iniziare a preparare rapporti su ogni base che NON renda gli Stati Uniti più “sicuri”.

Questa settimana sono in viaggio per la conferenza annuale di World BEYOND War, che si terrà quest’anno in Irlanda, vicino a un aeroporto attraverso il quale le forze armate statunitensi inviano truppe e armi esclusivamente per coinvolgere l’Irlanda nelle sue guerre. Stiamo lavorando per porre fine a tale pratica e fare dell’Irlanda un modello di neutralità.

Trasmetterò un impegno di due frasi per aiutare a porre fine a tutta la guerra che è stata firmata in 175 paesi e che si trova su worldbeyondwar.org Si prega di firmarlo se si è d’accordo. Forse uno dei prossimi anni potremo tenere la nostra conferenza e raduno in Italia.

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Italy Should Make Friends with the U.S. Public and the World By Kicking Out the U.S. Military

By David Swanson

In the late 1980s when I was a teenager and an exchange student in Bassano del Grappa I loved Italy for the same reasons I’ve loved it ever since, reasons that include natural and human-created and human beauty. I found Italians on average to be friendly, kind, generous, loving, fun-loving, humble, self-critical, and intelligent. It may have also helped a little that when I told other young people that I was from the U.S. they typically thought that was super cool. Older people told me that the United States had saved Italy from Nazism.

I didn’t know enough to point out that the U.S. government and U.S. elites had fueled the rise of Nazism which had drawn on Wall Street funding, U.S. segregation laws, U.S. eugenics programs, U.S. camps for Native Americans, and the support of the U.S. government. I didn’t know enough to point out that the notion of the United States as savior was being kept alive by the failure of the U.S. troops to ever leave Italy, but that they were in Italy for the purpose of aggressively attacking other countries for reasons that were anything but rescuing people from Nazism. I didn’t know that the U.S. government had considered Russia a threat to extreme wealth, inequality, and global domination, and had viewed the Soviet Union as the primary enemy right through the rise of Nazism and Fascism, right through the war, and following.

I didn’t know the U.S. left troops and saboteurs and spies behind, interfered in Italian politics, and viewed Italy from Day 1 (day 1 in U.S. culture is Pearl Harbor Day) as a piece of an empire to be imposed in the name of anti-imperialism.

I had no clue that there was more than one way for a people to be saved or to save itself. I had attended the best schools the United States had to offer, and nobody had told me that nonviolent campaigns had overthrown tyranny and even foreign occupations more successfully than violent campaigns. If Italy had been saved in some ancient time that I knew nothing of, and if that somehow explained why it was normal for there to be U.S. troops in Vicenza, who was I to question?

I made friends with one of those U.S. troops, skipped school, and went skiing with him. He was quite a nice guy, nothing violent about him. Nobody told me what the U.S. military did, that it illegally kept nuclear weapons in Italy, that it poisoned Sardinia practicing mass murder, that flying airplanes into ski lifts was not a price to be paid for something necessary but a price to be paid for something sociopathic. Italians told me that the most offensive thing U.S. troops did was wear blue jeans to go skiing.

I’d never heard of Evian, France, not far from Italy and the site of one of the conferences at which the governments of the world publicly and shamelessly decided not to accept the Jews out of Germany.

I’d never heard of Veterans For Peace or one of the heroes of that group, Smedley Butler. Here was the most decorated U.S. Marine there had ever been, a famous model general, a hero to all war lovers and all veterans, who was imprisoned for having publicly stated that Benito Mussolini ran over a little girl with his car and made some casual remark about only looking forward as he sped on. Speaking badly of Mussolini was bad for U.S.-Italian relations. The U.S. government loved Mussolini. So, Smedley was locked up. But later, the wealthiest people in the United States tried to hire Smedley to lead a fascist coup against President Roosevelt. Historians think it might have succeeded, except that Smedley went to Congress and exposed the plot. He also denounced war and his own career as a criminal racket.

Years later, when I did know a tiny bit of what I should have, I visited Vicenza to participate in protests against base expansion. I also met with U.S. Congress members in Washington together with Cinzia Bottene and Thea Valentina Garbellin, two of the leaders of the No Dal Molin resistance to the bases. I remember the Congress members and staffers wanting only to ask one question: If not in Vicenza, then where should we put a base? And Thea and Cinzia, to their eternal credit, answered: Nowhere! — which was far more polite than where I wanted to tell them to stick it.

U.S. and NATO bases are not helping Italy. They’re not protecting Italy from . . . well, from what? They have no enemy. The United States spends half of the world’s military spending. The other NATO nations are badgered by Donald Trump into spending another quarter. That’s three-quarters of world military spending. NATO nations also account for some three-quarters of foreign weapons sales. The regions of the globe with most of the wars manufacture almost no weapons. The United States sells weapons to 73% of the nations that it considers dictatorships, and trains most of them. U.S. and NATO wars generate enemies. And yet, when you watch U.S. officials try to explain to Congress why they need over $1 trillion to fight their enemies, the results are comical. Russia spends a few percent of what NATO does on war. A recent drone attack on a Saudi oil plant, which was apparently far more serious than the bombing of human beings in Yemen, cost less than the student debt of a single U.S. college student, and could not have happened without the U.S.-led creation of drone wars and the U.S.-backed genocidal assault on Yemen.

So, Congress members shamelessly claim that expanding NATO to Russia’s border is a jobs program for weapons jobs in the United States. Jack Matlock said this to Vladimir Putin who looked at him like he was crazy. And U.S. military officials anonymously admit to U.S. newspapers that the whole new cold war is driven by the desire to keep NATO and the Army rolling along and weapons profits flowing, even though economists will tell you that war spending is the worst possible thing for an economy.

NATO has now illegally and disastrously bombed Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya, exacerbated tensions with Russia, and increased the risk of nuclear apocalypse. But U.S. media tells us NATO is a way to cooperate with our friends in Europe, as if there are no nonviolent ways to cooperate with anyone — and that NATO is a way to legalize wars, as if a crime is not a crime when you get a gang together for it. And the mental disease called militarism has taken such root in Europe that plans are developing for a European military. The solution to NATO is not to clone it.

The case that we make at World BEYOND War is that, not only can no war be justified on its own, but no war can achieve the infinitely higher mark of justifying the existence of the institution of war. Three percent of U.S. military spending could end starvation globally; a little over 1 percent could end the lack of clean drinking water. A bit larger slice of military spending could put up a serious, and hardly dreamed of, effort to reduce the environmental catastrophe we are facing. Tiny bits of the military budget in humanitarian aid could make a nation loved and honored around the world rather than resented. War is a top cause of environmental destruction, of refugee crises, of the erosion of civil liberties, of the militarization of police and culture, of racism and xenophobia, of the risk of nuclear apocalypse.

By building a coalition that takes on war and all of the other evils it contributes to, we can find the numbers and the power to change things. This is why many of us risked arrest to shut down Washington for the climate on September 23rd.

World BEYOND War is working on three areas. One is education. We talk to college classes, and in less than an hour virtually every student is moved to drop the common belief that sometimes war is justified. Another is divestment. We’re getting local governments and universities and investment funds to take money out of weapons. The third is closing bases.

I believe that Italy should make friends with the U.S. public and the people of the world by kicking U.S. bases out. I recommend showing widely the video by CNGNN called “Italy is One Big U.S./NATO Military Base.” Second, let everyone in the United States know how much they’re paying for the bases, troops, weapons, and related wars. Tell them you want to save them money. They love money. Third, do everything you can to annoy Donald Trump and push him to demand that Italy pay higher fees for the privilege of being occupied by U.S. bases. Fourth, investigate the poisoning of drinking water near each U.S. base for carcinogenic permanent chemicals that kill forever, and which have sickened and killed people around U.S. bases all over the world. These chemicals are found in foam used to practice putting out fires, and much of the world uses safe alternatives. Fifth, make sure every person in Italy knows what they are paying, and knows that the United States can fight its wars without Italian bases or any foreign bases because it has airplanes, and knows that the United States views Italy as a colony, and knows that the United States builds its bases and poisons the environment without conceding any rights to Italians, and knows that Donald Trump thinks they are idiots, and knows that millions of people in the United States would be thrilled if Italy declared itself a peaceful and neutral nation.

By the way, a law passed by the U.S. House but not yet by the Senate would require that every foreign U.S. base be justified as somehow making the United States safer. So please start preparing reports on every base that does NOT make the U.S. more “secure.”

I’m on my way this week to World BEYOND War’s annual conference which is in Ireland this year near an airport that the U.S. military sends troops and weapons through purely in order to involve Ireland in its wars. We’re working to end that practice and establish Ireland as a model of neutrality.

I’m going to pass around a two-sentence pledge to help end all war that has been signed in 175 countries and is found at worldbeyondwar.org Please sign it if you agree with it. Perhaps one of these years we can have our conference and rally in Italy.

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