Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Hopelessly Brainwashed

Recently, my already low opinion of humanity's collective intelligence took another hit as I witnessed the collective response to Donald Trump's claims to be removing US troops from Syria. Now, obviously, I'm opposed to Trump having given Turkey's Erdogan a green light to invade Syrian territory and engage in ethnic cleansing against the Kurds. Trump is both an idiot and a monster. The only good thing that I can say about Erdogan is that he's not afraid to stand up to the USA, unlike the needlessly craven boot-lickers who control Canada's Liberal and Conservative parties. I'll let the inimitable Caitlin Johnstone summarize the flaws in the center-to-left response to Trump's actions:
Whenever you see anyone arguing for keeping troops in Syria that aren’t there with the permission of the Syrian government, this is all they’re really supporting: a campaign to annex a strategically valuable location into the US-centralized empire. This is true regardless of whatever reason they are offering for that support. And notice how all the different reasons we’ve been inundated with all appeal to different political sectors: the oil and Iran narratives appeal to rank-and-file Republicans, the humanitarian arguments appeal to liberals, and the Kurds narrative appeals to many leftists and anarchists like Noam Chomsky. But the end result is always the same: keeping military force in a location that the empire has long sought to absorb. 
By providing many different narratives as to why the military presence must continue, the propagandists get us all arguing over which narratives are the correct ones rather than whether or not there should be an illegal military occupation of a sovereign nation at all. This is just one of many examples of how the incredibly shrinking Overton window of acceptable debate is used to keep us arguing not over whether the empire should be doing evil things, but how and why it should do them them.
So you see? It doesn't matter about your merited concern for the Kurds. There are other ways to protect the Kurds. (Like an international consensus to respect a rules-based system of international law perhaps?) But no, otherwise intelligent people with decent morals are lining up behind keeping US troops to protect the Kurds or (ridiculously) counter Russian or Iranian influence. What the HEY, ... I'll also link to Ms. Johnstone's further reflections on narrative control that she wrote after the link above:
It’s just like the illegal US occupation of Syria. US troops need to be in Syria because of humanitarian concerns. US troops need to be in Syria because of chemical weapons. US troops need to be in Syria to stop ISIS. US troops need to be in Syria to counter Iranian influence. US troops need to be in Syria to counter Russian influence. US troops need to be in Syria to protect the Kurds. US troops need to be in Syria because of oil. There’s a different reason for every ideological echo chamber.
But take away the narrative soundtrack and what do you have? US troops staying in Syria. That tells you what this is actually about.
And, to me, this is all so very, very depressing because of the titanic levels of ignorance, delusion and amnesia that is on display here. My younger readers might not remember, but from 1950-something to 1975, the USA was involved in a bloody, sordid exercise in imperialism called (in the USA) "The Vietnam War." Mass democracy in the USA had only really been a "thing" since the 1930's really. (Women got the vote in 1920. Blacks were voting in the northern states in significant numbers around the same time.) Social inequality was decreasing with the rise of trade unions and Keynesian "full employment" policies. A generation grew to maturity in the 1960's who hadn't known widespread poverty and insecurity. And many of them did not want to be drafted into a war they didn't support. So they mobilized to stop the war. Other people were opposed to the war on principle and, obviously, they protested against it too. There were a number of reasons large numbers opposed the Vietnam War and this opposition played a small part in restraining US government escalation of the war and, later, a small part in the climb-down from the war. (The largest influence had been the willingness of the Vietnamese to fight and die for their independence with the material assistance of the USSR and China.)

But the psychopaths and hypocrites and scumbags in charge of US foreign policy found this opposition to imperialism and militarism to be personally traumatizing. They referred to it as a sickness of their society called "The Vietnam Syndrome." And fear of increasing this sickness limited the USA's foreign adventurism for about a decade afterwards. The monsters in Washington limited themselves to tiny operations in Grenada and Panama when it came to sending US troops overseas. One has to wonder if Bush the Elder hadn't deliberately manipulated Iraq's Saddam Hussein into invading Iraq* only so that he could then (taking advantage of the weakness and approaching disintegration of the Soviet Union) "justify" a US war on Iraq that would signal the return of US foreign adventurism. Bush 41 had helped to chip away at the US-American people's aversion to foreign wars for decades. With the [inevitable] US victory over Iraq, George Herbert Walker Bush gleefully announced that they'd "kicked that Vietnam Syndrome once and for all."

Lest we forget; Opposition to the US in Vietnam was also due to the brutality involved. The carpet-bombing of Hanoi; the Napalm defoliation of Vietnam's jungles (and all the living creatures, including human beings, living there); the My Lai Massacre (Which was only an aberration in that it was reported upon. An award-winning investigative series by the Toledo Blade on the elite "Tiger Force" battalion documented just one example of long-term, systemic barbarism that went unnoticed by US-Americans at the time.)

In summation: War is inherently evil. And a significant proportion of the US-American people, seeing their country engaged in a war of choice against a much weaker enemy, for no good purpose, rose up against it in protest. And this humanity, this wisdom, this expression of sentiment, was pronounced a "syndrome" by the warmongers, who worked to eradicate it. The propaganda system set to work demonizing the dirty hippies and the spineless liberals who forced the US military to fight with one arm tied behind its back and thereby "lost" Vietnam to the communists. There were still thousands of "MIA" US-American soldiers languishing in Vietnamese prison camps who needed rescuing. Vietnam had been a noble cause that inexplicably transformed itself into a quagmire.

I said that the USA refrained from foreign adventurism up until the attack on Iraq in 1991. That doesn't mean they didn't have an "activist" foreign policy. Throughout the 1970's the USA assisted in the overthrow of Chile's democratically-elected socialist government of Salvador Allende; replacing him with the fascist thug Pinochet. The Carter administration supported the corrupt, murderous dictatorship in El Salvador against an armed people's uprising. Spanning the 1970's and 1980's a bipartisan consensus existed to destroy the Sandinista government in Nicaragua by utilizing the terrorist "Contra" rebels (formed from the military of the defeated Somoza dictatorship). All through the 1980's, the USA supported governments in Latin America, however murderous, who imposed IMF austerity and business-as-usual corruption and colonialism, and destabilized any and all governments that attempted to resist these ruinous policies. And, as usual, Washington psychopaths maintained a titanically hypocritical facade of concern for "human rights" in countries where they were actively fomenting armed rebellion (for instance; bitching about "censorship" in Nicaragua when the Sandinista government under siege claimed a shortage of newsprint to cut-off supplies to an opposition newspaper supporting the Washington-backed terrorists seeking their overthrow), and inventing stupid excuses of "fledgling democracies" like El Salvador, where government-backed "DEATH SQUADS" roamed freely, raping and killing peasant leaders, trade union activists and suspected supporters of the rebels.

If you're starting to see a pattern of brutality and hypocrisy that exists into the present day, then congratulations. In that regard you're light-years ahead of Stephen Colbert, who moronically stated (in a "debate" with Anti-Endless-Wars politician Tulsi Gabbard) that he thought the United States was a force for good in the world. It is not. All the evidence (for decades) shows that the USA is a malevolent force in the world. Just as the USSR was. Just as European imperialism was. Just as were any groups of exploiters and oppressors in the whole sordid history of humanity. Our collectives (whether tribes, or nations, or whatever) tend to be created and subsequently dominated by individuals who lust after power. As such, their encounters with other peoples tend to be predicated on further domination. Recognizing and acknowledging this fundamental truth is necessary if we're ever to create a new world of cooperation, peace, and mutual respect.

I started this post as a response to the incoherent jibber-jabber that greeted Trump's contradictory public musings about pulling US troops out of Syria. Deluded beliefs that only the continued [illegal] presence of US troops in Syria can protect the Kurds. Silly attempts at geo-political analysis of the dangers of increasing Russian and Iranian influence in Syria. Total amnesia about the murderous criminality of decades of US meddling in the Middle East. A whole stew of confusion that I still intend to get into.

But since I began this writing, a right-wing racist, fascist coup against socialist President Evo Morales in Bolivia has taken place and the absolutely brazen hypocrisy displayed by our overlords only reinforces my contempt for what passes for analysis on foreign affairs. Smart-ass liberals like to sneer about the supposed "Red-Brown Alliance" (AKA: their shit-head "horseshoe theory") wherein "purity-ponies" like me find ourselves strangely in bed with "alt-right" racist fuckwads because both of us hate liberals (like Hillary Clinton) and (for our own reasons) don't believe in stupidity like "Russiagate." Meanwhile, these self-same liberals fail to notice the common ground they share with Trump, the Republican Party, and all the human shit-eaters who have thrown-in with them. To maintain the coherence of this paragraph I will say that the confluence of liberal and Trumpian attitudes towards Bolivia and Venezuela is an example of this liberal-fascist alliance. Our own disgusting Foreign Minister, Crystia ("Fascist Grandpappy") Freeland happily plays along, imposing murderous sanctions on Venezuela for behaviour far more mild than that of the monsters who have recently taken over Bolivia whom she wholeheartedly supports.

Okay? Do we understand? Venezuela, first under Hugo Chavez and now under Nicolas Maduro, govern through a Bolivarian political movement that has achieved the following results:
In December 2005, UNESCO said that Venezuela had eradicated illiteracy.
The number of children attending school increased from 6 million in 1998 to 13 million in 2011 and the enrollment rate is now 93.2%.
Mission Robinson II was launched to bring the entire population up to secondary level. Thus, the rate of secondary school enrollment rose from 53.6% in 2000 to 73.3% in 2011.
The number of doctors increased from 20 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 80 per 100,000 in 2010, or an increase of 400%.
The infant mortality rate fell from 19.1 per thousand in 1999 to 10 per thousand in 2012, a reduction of 49%.
Average life expectancy increased from 72.2 years in 1999 to 74.3 years in 2011.From 1999 to 2011, the poverty rate decreased from 42.8% to 26.5% and the rate of extreme poverty fell from 16.6% in 1999 to 7% in 2011.

Obviously, Venezuela benefited from enjoying high oil prices during this period. And due to a glut in carbon energy supplies (caused by fracking and frantic Saudi pumping of oil) the price of oil has since plummeted, placing Venezuela in dire economic straits. We have only to look to Alberta, an oil-exporting province in one of the richest, most "developed" countries in the world, to see the impact of falling oil prices. But whereas the Bolivarians sought to maintain social programs for the people, the Alberta Conservatives' response has consistently been to slash public spending and [insanely and stupidly] cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy. Very few mainstream corporate commentators point out the obvious incompetence of Alberta's Conservatives. Not even when the example of social democratic Norway's $1 trillion sovereign wealth funds are sitting right there for everyone to compare with Alberta's $18.2 billion heritage fund. (Norway obtained over $1 trillion in assets by TAXING the oil companies who extracted their country's non-renewable resources. Alberta's rock-ribbed conservatives simply gave their resources away for a pittance. And now, the insane Jason Kenney wants to let these companies evade their obligations to clean-up after themselves and expects the federal government to pay for it instead!)

On top of the fall in energy prices, the Bolivarians have had to contend with crippling economic sanctions imposed on them by the USA, Canada and other lickspittle countries. These have been imposed because of bullshit "concerns" about Veneuela's elections (Alberta's Christo-fascist closet-case Jason Kenney is currently under investigation for having stolen the leadership of the United Conservative Party and is trying to fire the officer investigating this, just so we all know.) as well as for isolated acts of violence against US-backed stooges who murder Bolivarian politicians, riot across the country, set non-white people on fire, decapitate people, and call for the overthrow of the government.

Meanwhile, governments in Honduras, Colombia, pre-Obrador Mexico, Chile, Brazil, and post-Morales Bolivia, get to literally massacre people in the streets and they get the USA's and Canada's support.

Speaking of Bolivia, this country is currently the site of the tragedy of the racist, white overlords inflicting their vengeance upon the indigeneous people's movements that saw their first indigenous leader elected (in a country that is 88% Indigenous [20%] or Mestizo [68%]) Evo Morales, in 2006. From 2006 to 2019 Morales' governments oversaw achievements similar to those of Chavez, Maduro and the Bolivarians:

And before we go on, let's stop and reflect upon the significance of these achievements in these poor countries. For decades, liberal economists and political scientists used to busy themselves with theories and praxis, trying to tease-out the mysterious secret of "development" of poorer countries. Often to little (or even negative) effect. It seems from examples in Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, etc., ... that the great riddle is to SPEND MONEY ON THE POOR. Invest in education. Invest in health care. Invest in housing. Tax the wealthy in order to do so. Use the revenues from natural resources to invest in the domestic economy. Charge transnational corporations higher prices for these finite resources.

Uh-oh. Tax the wealthy? Force TNCs to pay more? Sounds like socialism to me! That's (sorta) what it is. And for that reason such countries have to be brought to heel. And so that it was the USA (and Canada, and France and the UK and all the rest) do. Canadian governments are slavishly devoted to promoting the selfish interests of our mining and other resource extraction interests. And so we take a major role in subverting democratic movements within the western hemisphere.

It all adds up to Canada and the United States being the monsters, the villains, the "bad guys" and causing needless mass suffering and death. And the propaganda system works diligently to obscure this reality. Thankfully (for them) most of the population is so incurious about what goes on in the world beyond their immediate horizon, and so willing to swallow mainstream narratives that this job is fairly easy.** The real tragedy (for decent people) is how many otherwise intelligent people with humane motives and a genuine interest in being informed are so fucking incapable of escaping the prison of tribalism to be able to make a worthy contribution. When they're not babbling inanely about how whatever foreign leader is being targeted by Washington is a "thug" and an "authoritarian" they're simply clinging to the absurd notion that the Democratic or Liberal wing of the oligarchy are "good" and therefore they, and everything they do, must be supported.

Even when the juxtaposition is so obvious (re: US treatment of Venezuela's government as opposed to Bolivia's government) that it is impossible to deny. Or, as in the Middle East, when the simple preponderance of evidence shows unequivocally that the entire US (and allied) power elite are murderous, monstrous filth. Year after year, decade after decade, propagandized humans cling to the ridiculous belief that the USA is a force for good in the world. It is simply amazing to me how anyone could be blathering about the need for a US troop presence in Syria in order to "protect the Kurds."

So allow me to put forth some counter-arguments. Prepare to read stuff you won't see at some mainstream news outlet or from some liberal bloggers. (And, obviously, you won't read these ideas at FAUX-NEWs or some pseudo-fascist "conservative" blogger's place.)

As I've said in other posts, I believe that Donald J. Trump ran for president as a publicity stunt. Much of his fortune is based on his celebrity status. He's famous. He had a television show. He was in movies. He was at a "Wrestlemania." So the name "Trump" was marketable. People built hotels and paid to put the name "Trump" on them. Challenging Barack Obama's citizenship was a cheap way for him to score points with right-wing racists. (The sort of people he attracted, being a racist himself.)

Since his presidential campaign was a stunt, and since he himself was not a life-long politician, Trump was free to say whatever he wanted to make his campaign seem viable. He assembled some advisors and asked them what topics were firing up the rubes. They told him that lost jobs (shipped overseas to China, Mexico and elsewhere) and "illegal" immigration (where impoverished Third Worlders with no self-respect worked for less than US-born workers would and thereby "stole" jobs) were the biggest concerns. Skyrocketing health care costs (blamed on "Obamacare" but inevitable due to the USA's anti-human profit-based healthcare access system) was another. Wall Street and general corporate criminality angers right-wing shlubs as much as it does left-wing shlubs. And, finally, the waste of the USA's endless wars in the Middle East (perhaps to a right-wing chump appearing as US-Americans dying to free ungrateful Arab savages who only respond with more terrorism) also pissed them off. So Trump talked about those things. Freely and openly. Thereby violating all the norms of the toxic bipartisan Washington Consensus.

Again, as I've said elsewhere, Trump was also beholden to Russian oligarchs/mafia for capital for his rickety real-estate empire, which made him sympathetic to Russians. Which made him as confused as any normal person would be at the demonization of Russian forces fighting ISIS in Syria. Trump called for better relations with Russia. And this put him on the shit-list of the "Deep State." (The "Deep State" is simply the permanent institutions of "national security" and foreign policy that persists as Republican and Democratic administrations come and go. Although the USA still practices something of the "spoils system" it still has a permanent bureaucracy that functions the way the fictional British bureaucrats do in "Yes Minister." (So, unless you're prepared to find that witty bit of British satire to be an example of paranoid conspiracy thinking, you're going to have to acknowledge that there is a permanent institutional "national security" apparatus that has its own agenda and values.)

By sympathizing with Russia, Trump violated one of the fundamentals of the USA's foreign policy establishment, while simultaneously threatening the biggest (or second-biggest after China) justifications for the bloated Military-Industrial-Complex (MIA). Again, Trump is a real-estate developer, a media personality and a con-man. His sympathies for Russia were a personal expression arising out of this. The lunatic theories of global domination and the profits of the merchants of death was outside of his day-to-day priorities. So he didn't consider them. But now he has to because he's president. And, also, because (beginning with the psychopathic Hillary Clinton) his outbursts of sanity about improved US-Russian relations has been portrayed as "treason."

And here we come to the important topic of "Trump Derangement Syndrome." Again, I've spoken of this elsewhere. Trump is an idiot and a monster. But his liberal critics are so bent out of shape by his monstrosity that they end up condemning him for things they'd praised Obama for. For instance, Obama was rightly cheered for responding to opponent Mitt Romney's calls for a more bellicose posture towards Putin's Russia by telling him "The Cold War is over." VP candidate Sarah Palin was rightly mocked for her nonsensical assertions that she could see Putin rearing his head from her Alaska redoubt. (I've said, over and over, that Putin's Russia, with an economy the size of South Korea's, has no ability or ambition to challenge the US-led world order. Indeed, it wanted to JOIN that world over, if only with some of its prestige and independence as a former "great power" left intact. Whatever you think of the man, Putin has only been RESPONDING to US provocations for pretty much his entire time as Russia's leader.) But Trump's stated desires to pursue better relations with nuclear-armed Russia is [insanely] seen as "dangerous" to the USA and probably the result of Trump's being Putin's homo-butt-boy who let Russian whores piss on him. (I believe that is how "woke" progressives are defining the Trump-Putin relationship these days.)

Once again, the inimitable Caitlin Johnstone responds to this evidence-free insanity with actual facts.

"25 Times Trump Has Been Dangerously Hawkish On Russia."

That article was a response to a shit-headed mainstream news editorial pointing to instances where Trump said something nice about Russia, or something bad about an ally, or when he didn't agree with his lying intelligence services that his entire presidency is a Russian-orchestrated fraud, which Johnstone counters by pointing to ACTUAL POLICIES that Trump has pursued that are inimical to Russia's interests (including sanctions on Russian individuals and resources, arming Russia's enemies and attacking her allies, and abrogating arms control treaties to begin a new nuclear arms race).

Trump might have been sympathetic to Russia and (as a Washington outsider) he might have had a sane view on the stupidity and wastefulness of US-America's endless wars in the Middle East and elsewhere. (He's either blind or indifferent to the suffering they've caused.) But Trump's primary loyalty is to himself. When he saw the pushback towards his attempts at improved US-Russian relations, he clearly went the other way. When he saw how the corporate news reported favorably on his missile strikes on Syria and other acts of war, he decided to give them more of what they asked for. (But at the same time Trump remains leery of starting new conflicts, often pulling back at the last minute as was the case with John Bolton's plan to attack Iran.) What causes this lingering reticence isn't clear.

But what IS clear is that liberals and progressives are so hopelessly brainwashed by the media and so twisted by Trump Derangement Syndrome that they cheer on anti-democratic agencies such as the FBI and the CIA and their quite open attempts to kneecap an elected president whose foreign policy noises they do not like. You hear these otherwise sane people shrieking that "Trump isn't listening to his generals!!!" when he says he wants to leave Syria. (Would these people have demanded that Obama obey his generals if he'd wanted to pull troops from a country his military wanted to [illegally] stay in?)

I guess to bring this extended monologue to a close so that I can get on with the rest of my useless life, I'll point out that it sickens me how so many people choose to become passionate about the lives of the Kurds in Syria to the point where they support the continued illegal and mercenary presence of the US military in that country. They ignore all of the blood and horror caused by US meddling in Syria (far greater than any Russian "meddling" in the 2016 US elections) and stupidly see their country as a necessary force for good in the region. All the while, Trump, like Obama before him (and like Trudeau then and since) continues to militarily support Saudi Arabia, year after year, as MILLIONS of Yemenis are starved to death.

These glaring disconnects and titanic delusions among the portion of the electorate that doesn't listen to shit-head right-wing garbage would seem to point to our species' hopelessness.

* For any readers who (honestly or not) imagine that I'm saying Saddam Hussein was a saint who would never have invaded Kuwait but for US-American manipulation, ... that is NOT what I'm saying. Saddam wanted to invade Kuwait but he knew he had to have US-American permission in order to do so. That was why he ran the idea past the US Ambassador (who told him very clearly that the USA had no opinion on the topic one way or the other) first.

** I simply have to mention the latest cultural abomination: Amoral psychopath Jeff Bezos's "Amazon Prime" has been pushing season two of its series "Jack Ryan" based on the character created by Cold War novelist Tom Clancy. I saw their ads all over the place and, knowing that Ryan is supposed to be a CIA agent, I wondered just what sort of nonsense they were spewing to make the CIA appear to be a force for good. A little research showed that it was indeed vile. In season two, Jack Ryan is trying to frustrate the evil dictator of Venezuela from getting nuclear missiles from the Russians that he wants to fire at the USA. Stupid propagandist drivel.


Troy said...

All you just wrote about, it's been startling to witness and observe in real-time. Without naming names, a blog I used to follow regularly daily for the author's insight into global warming transformed into an anti-Trump blog utilizing what was quickly becoming apparent the propagandized arguments being made by the same groups that thought up the second Iraq War and their other failure: Hilary Clinton's presidential election campaign. I made a comment very passively and indirectly criticizing the author for taking up this position, and haven't returned since.

I suppose it's been a blessing. It's made clear that whatever a person's social position, ultimately liberalism and conservationism are still both tribal capitalist positions. And the invidious distinction of not being Donald Trump is still far more important than consistently holding rational positions in opposition to injustice.

thwap said...


Thanks for your comment. I remember during that miserable 2016 election saying that I wouldn't vote for either of the offered scumbags if I was a US-American voter.

I would have voted for Jill Stein.

And then the moral cretins of the Democratic Party launch into their delusional tirades and their accusations of childishness, elitism, callousness, for anyone who can't see the existential danger of Trump.

WE've only got less than a decade to smarten up and hold the climate change that's coming to a level that will preserve human civilization at any sort of minimal level.