Sunday, September 17, 2017

You Are What You Watch

In the world’s biggest program of social engineering the Pentagon teamed up with Hollywood and with the TeeVee industry to sell us violence. The tradition of social engineering goes back to the father of consumer propaganda: Edward Bernays, twice (on his mother’s and his father’s side) nephew of Sigmund Freud, (also a master of social engineering to whom Bernays often paid tribute). Bernays, who published a book titled Propaganda, parlaying what he learned from the 1914 war effort, developed what he called the “engineering of consent.” His view of “democracy” is paradoxical to say the least:

Edward Bernays
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute and invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of….It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.” And Bernays was certainly one of them, in the civilian world, the first of many. His first assignment—by Big Tobacco which hired him—was to introduce American women to smoking (and lung cancer). On the tail of his big success (he got socialite suffragettes to smoke up a storm as they marched down Fifth Avenue demanding the vote) the U.S. Army hired him.

Fast forward to today’s militarized, gun-happy, armed-to-the-teeth U.S.A.  The American public likes to believe it’s not being manipulated in any way, but a recent FOIA request disclosed that at least 800 feature films received support from the Department of Defense, including such violent blockbuster franchises as “Iron Man,”  “Transformers,” and “The Terminator.” Such films as “The Recruit” and “Zero Dark Thirty” were influenced by government officials to show heightened and inflated real world threats while downplaying government malfeasance.

In a symbiotic relationship with the entertainment industry, the Pentagon gets to re-write history, whitewash the military, and beef up recruitment figures. The entertainment industry gets access to free shoots, military hardware, personnel, and locations. For example, the 2013 “Captain Phillips” was able to use a U.S. military guided missile destroyer, an amphibious assault ship, several helicopters, and members of SEAL Team Six, courtesy of the U.S. Navy who worked the shoot into their training.

With Pentagon affiliation, production benefits from additional perks: often it is able to avoid Screen Actors Guild’s daily minimums, and having to pay residuals. But here, as everywhere, the rule of no free lunch applies: Pentagon (and CIA) vetted scripts have to be re-written according to government dictates, their meanings doctored, their images altered, and sometimes, the project is cancelled altogether because it fails to meet military standards.

No where in the credits does the public ever see the name of Phil Strub, the go-to liaison man operating in Hollywood on behalf of the Pentagon, a man with the power to demand re-writes, alterations, and deletions of material not in keeping with the image the military likes to project. Films are denied Pentagon support if in Strub’s view they show the military in a negative light, which might include films with scenes relating to murder, torture, extracting gold teeth as war booty, or drug use, such as “Platoon,” Apocalypse Now,” Zero Dark Thirty,” and “Argo,” none of which received Pentagon support. More than 1,100 Television titles have had their content brought into line while benefitting from Pentagon backing, from “Army Wives,” to “Flight 93” to “Ice Road Truckers” in exchange for the industry’s providing glamor to D.C.’s political class.

More often than not, Hollywood is happy to play ball with Strub because his approval means a huge break in a film production’s budget. The budgetary difference between a film that benefits from Pentagon largesse in exchange for censorship, can be as much as $50 million dollars, a difference that can make or break box office. And, although Strub denies it, there is a correlation between a Pentagon-approved hit war movie and increased recruitment figures, a key consideration in the absence of a military draft.  Not only has the Pentagon established liaison with the industry but since 1947, the CIA has also gotten into the game, “assisting” in some 60 film and television shows.

The entertainment industry is one arm of a heavily propagandized, increasingly violent society, and with its access to the malleable minds of millions, its influence in molding mindset may very well outweigh that of the media as evidenced by such recent events as the Charlottesville murder of Heather Heyer, the playground attempted lynching of a 8-year old boy by juveniles, the stomping to death and shootings of unarmed homeless men, the ascendance to the lands’ highest office of a White supremacist (who caught the public eye through professional wrestling), the abrogation of habeas corpus and posse comitatus (see the September 10 newsletter) the militarization of law enforcement nationwide, the private security Black Swan war against the water protectors at Standing Rock, the impunity manifested by such agencies as ICE and the border patrol, and the hew and cry for war against Russia and North Korea by its media arm.   

A society is what it watches. A society that ingests militarism and violence along with its popcorn does so at its peril.


Tom Secker and Matthew Alford: National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood

David L. Robb: Operation Hollywood

Watch The Century of the Self, Adam Curtis’ documentary describing the social engineering work of Bernays and the Freuds.

Note: Next Newsletter, “Chelsea Manning,” will appear October 1.

For peace of mind, boycott Hollywood film.

Some Roses Amongst the Week’s Thorns 

California clean money Act AB 249 passes in bipartisan vote of 59-15 on its way to the governor’s desk.

California passes Sanctuary State bill forbidding state and local law enforcement from providing information to or acting as the deputies for federal immigration authorities.

Last Friday, Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert told reporters that the White House might put out another executive order or additional guidance in the next month. We shouldn’t use federal money to rebuild in ways that don’t anticipate future flood risk,” Bossert said. “So we need to build back smarter and stronger against flood plain concerns when we use federal dollars.”

The Senate Appropriation Committee voted on Thursday to reinstate funding for the United Nations Population Fund and overturn the abortion gag rule, which bans funding for international organizations that provide (or even discuss) abortion care. The move goes against Trump’s executive order, which reinstated the gag rule during his first few days in office. Foreign Policy reports:

Sunday, September 10, 2017

By Water or by Fire

My colleague, who chooses to go by AA Guy, refers to Mother Earth as MOM.  Do you think maybe when Harvey hit Houston, the Petro Metro center of the U.S. fossil fuel industry, with an unprecedented 51 inches of rain, do you think maybe it’s a sign it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature? At a time when no official U.S. government document or publication is allowed to mention the CC word (Climate Change in case you’re not use to seeing two caps) do you think MOM might be hitting back?  If the voices claiming global warming is caused by human activity (anthropogenic climate disruption – ACD) on earth cannot make themselves heard against the clamor of the Kochs, the meretricious media, and the U.S. government’s official policy, do you think that maybe Mother Earth is making her last stand?

This hurricane/wildfire season has seen damage on an unprecedented scale. As the administration’s mouthpiece has trumpeted: “You have no idea.” Unless you have been ordered to evacuate (whether or not you’re either too poor, or too without gas to do so), you can have absolutely no idea what it’s like to live in a zone impacted by a fire so savage and uncontrolled that it can leap the Columbia river; no idea what it’s like to drown in 51 inches of rain, no idea what it’s like to find 90% of the housing on your island no longer habitable, with everything in ruins.

Consider signing Up for the next Climate Reality Leadership Training. Seriously.

There are issues threatening not just human life, but all life on the planet: the emergent (that is instant) issue of nuclear war; and the slow destruction by climate collapse. Now more than ever, concerted pushback, by applying appropriate technology is called for. Which is why this week’s Roses focus almost entirely on technological solutions; and why our feature article, #Unrig focuses on a human-based pushback tactic. 

#Unrig: An Idea Waiting to Happen

#Unrig (which stands for unrigging a rigged system) is an idea whose time may have come. It’s here in this week’s newsletter for your consideration. The idea itself, above and beyond its proponents merits careful consideration.

Its proponents: Cynthia McKinney, Black former member of congress who was gerrymandered out of office by vested interests because of her unwillingness to bow to AIPAC, and corporate donors, and Robert David Steele, a former Marines Intelligence Officer, CIA case manager, libertarian, and self-avowed right of center person, and the only one from that sector who seems to be calling for the shut down of the nearly one thousand US military bases worldwide.  He wears a black polo shirt emblazoned with their logo #unrig; and she wears a white polo with the same logo (in black of course.)  In the video from time to time you will see him staring into space; you will see Ms. McKinney engaging with eye contact.

But these two, strange bed fellow as they appear, are not Black Spy, White Spy next generation escapees from Mad Comix. They are proposing a solution to the collapse of the American political system: As background they point to the need by power elites throughout history to use divide and conquer as their fix-all strategy for remaining in control. To unrig that control, they propose a coalition of Right and Left anchored on points both hold in common.

Their field of operation is narrowed, as those of us know who may have paid attention to the U.S. constitution and to U.S. political practice, by the confines of a winner-take-all system as opposed to a parliamentary system of proportional representation. But within those narrow confines, they are waging a bet that enough maneuverability may be had to unrig a rigged political system.

It is important to listen to them critically. The image they present alone acts as a powerful educational model. Beyond the TV based politics of image, their ideas tend to range all over the map from open source technology, to the culture of the deep state., and the embrace of a Summer of Peace. Steele basically wants to concentrate of Election reform legislation; McKinney wants to go even deeper by awakening popular engagement the other 1459 days between election cycles. But their main talking points stress how an example of opposites coming together for the common good may have the power to spark a national conversation at a time when the country has been polarized as never before.

By curious coincidence illustrating the potentials of negotiation, with a by-partisan assemblage of congress people in the Oval Office, Trump hosed his base with cold water, going with a Democrat proposal to reduce the debt limit to three months (not 18 as his base had hoped, timed to fall just past the 2018 election cycle) with the emergency funding to deal with Harvey’s devastation in the balance.

#Unrig’s approach is based on their study of action research, its goal to put people of all stripes and belief systems at the same table. Will they succeed? Yes, with citizen support, which is what their debut tour is designed to engage, but a number of their references allude to persons whose backgrounds are seriously questionable, such as John McAfee, and Martin Armstrong.

The more important question, divorced from the cult of personality,  is WILL THE IDEA SUCCEED? It needs to succeed and to find the traction that critical mass alone can lend it if the moribund corpse of US politics is to be resurrected. And that depends on us.

For more information Cynthia McKinney’s web site


A Parade Float of Roses This Week

The Lotofen Declaration signed by 220 organizations in 55 countries projects an immediate end to new oil, gas, and coal development, and a managed decline of fossil fuel production.

Something for social scientists to grapple with: why do most Americans now agree that climate change will harm Americans, but it won’t happen personally to them. (Risk perception is what distinguishes between elites and minorities.)

Seven American cities (out of 35,000) have achieved 100% renewable electricity.

In denial states in fly-over America, authorities have to frame the need for renewables as not based on climate change, but as “energy savings, smart growth, and natural resource management.” (Like calling birth control family planning). 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Coming to a Street Near You

Our August 27 newsletter honed in on the on-going militarization of U.S. law enforcement nationwide, tracing it to homeland security’s alliance with the Israel Defense Forces. Adding insult to injury, this week the Le Trompeur* administration is about to rescind the Obama’s administration’s attempt to put the brakes on the 1033 Program. by giving law enforcement weapons of war. The FEMA/Urban Shield program overseeing first response is not designed to consult with local communities, nor to obtain their input, quite the contrary. But a recent Atlantic article points out that local responders as they react in Houston are hands down/hands on the most effective as current experience shows.

* Le Trompeur. French for the cheat.

The effect of the Le Trompeur administration’s recent announcement that it would no longer restrict deployment of battle-grade hardware to U.S. streets will be to quash peaceful dissent, to cripple opposition, and to intensify the controversy between non-violent resistance, and the tradition of antifascist opposition whose extraordinarily courageous history is exemplified by the anti-Nazi Resistance movements, including Jewish Resistance, throughout Europe during the Second World War. 

Police Tac Squad disperses Ferguson demonstrators
What is 1033?

According to the Defense Logistics Agency’s official story, 1033 refers to the 1990-1 decision by congress to authorize excess DOD “personal property” (translation: tanks, half tracks, sound canons, short-barreled assault rifles, body armor, armored personnel carriers, and mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles) to federal and state agencies for use in counter-drug activities. In other words, that old justification-for-mayhem chestnut, The War on Drugs.

In a subsequent paragraph, the Defense Logistics Agency identifies that “personal property” a little more specifically as “excess military property” and later as property of the Department of Defense (DOD). 

According to the ACLU, as of 2014, the U.S. has equipped its law enforcement to act like warriors to the tune of $4.3 billion surplus battle grade military equipment. Transfer of battle-grade “personal” property is extremely hard to trace. Such transfers are shielded by official deniability. Nonetheless, it’s fun to note that Watertown CT police acquired a MRAP (sticker price: $733,000 paid for by your tax dollars) for a bargain basement $2,800. So far no landmines have been detected in Watertown CT, but there are ways to rectify the imbalance of asymmetrical warfare—which Iraq’s so-called “insurgents” seem to have perfected.

Small town Michigan law enforcement have acquired MRAP troop carriers, night-vision scopes, camouflage fatigues, Humvees, and a goodly supply of M16 rifles. Bloomington, GA (pop. 2713) law enforcement boast four grenade launchers. As Harry Truman said, referring to the nuclear bomb, “Hell, we paid $6 million for it; we gotta use it.”

What was Posse Comitatus?

The 1878 Act of congress so titled restricts the military from being used to conduct domestic raids and seize property.  In other words the U.S. military could not act in a law enforcement capacity.

Armchair warrior George W. Bush can be credited with shredding posse comitatus when in 2006 he signed into law the John Warner Defense Authorization Act empowering the president (sic) to declare a “public emergency” at his sole discretion and billet federal troops anywhere throughout the United States, also granting him (or her) the authority to federalize National Guard troops without the consent of state governors in order to “restore public order.”  

Shortly thereafter, in 2008 the U.S. Army’s 1st brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division began their stateside mission under the U.S. Northern Command, fielded at that time in Georgia. The 3rd Infantry Division consists of battle-hardened combat vets who’ve completed three tours of Iraq duty. Is it possible that one or two of them might be suffering from PTSD?

Rubber bullet launcher @ Berkeley 8/26 Protest
What was Habeas Corpus?

Habeas Corpus derived from a 1679 act of Parliament requiring that a person detained by authorities be brought before a court of law so that the legality of that detention might be contested.

Constitutional lawyer Barrack Obama changed all that by signing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which contains a measure allowing any U.S. citizen to be taken into custody and held indefinitely without ever being changed with a crime basically repealing habeas corpus. Furthermore, the act designates the military as the arresting agency.


The U.S. Army continues to advertise for Internment and Resettlement Specialists on its official website.  And to learn where to report, a list of “resettlement” camps from Alabama to Wyoming is available with a Click.

Lest I be accused here of presenting you with a nostalgia piece, let me offer three proactive solutions.

Support Hank Johnson’s bi-partisan bill Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2017 (SMLEA), HR 1556.

Mobilize to Stop Urban Shield by checking out recent campaign updates. The streets you keep clear of tanks may be your own. 

Scant Roses Among This Week’s Thorns

Ruckus works. After huge global outcry, corrupt Brazilian government (forgive oxymoron) forced to delay granting mining permit in massive Amazonian reserve.

Federal government not to prosecute the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance six, arrested on the U.S. Capitol Steps for pleading for an end to war funding.

Federal judge again throws out Texas voter ID law
 handing another court defeat to the state's Republicans over voting rights.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

When Did This Become This

 “2017 Deadliest on Record for Killings by Police”  reads the headline of a recent article by Rachel Bevins. The author  consults the “Killed by Police” database to lay out her statistics. So far, police zealotry has resulted in 714 murders, indicating that this year may set the record for assassination-by-police. Murder-to-murder, an aggrieved U.S. public has registered crescendoing outrage. The Rodney King beating may furnish the trend’s overture. Or perhaps Trayvon Martin (murdered by an unhinged vigilante). But certainly the ruthless murder of Oscar Grant furnishes an iconic jumping off point. Since then we have had Michael Brown (left in the street to bleed out for hours), Tamir Rice (12 years old wielding a toy gun), Sandra Bland (murdered for a left turn), Freddie Gray (murdered for having a fragile neck), all of them black people, from U.S. regions as far apart as Missouri, Florida, and Maryland. Holding the thousands upon thousands of names of victims, primarily those of people of color, in heart and mind requires the kilobyte memory of the Recording Angel herself.

For a public which remains relatively unconcerned about the victimization of the poor, and of people of color, police were happy to furnish a wake-up call with the recent murder of Justine Damond, a manifestly white (and beautiful) Australian woman shot and killed when she made the fatal mistake of calling 911 to report a neighborhood disturbance. The newspapers were happy to run her picture (good for sales): a magnificent, blonde, manifestly white woman, her life cruelly snuffed out.

The political climate is ripe to run those annual mortality figures up with militarization of law enforcement, with the current Resident whose recent remarks indicate it’s open season now for uncontested police brutality, and whose obsession to erect an exclusionary border wall will call on Israeli firm, Elbit Systems to build; with an Attorney General hell-bent on increasing police larceny with asset forfeiture,  with a 1033 Federal Program which force feeds municipal police departments with battle-grade military hardware, with funneling discharged vets, many suffering from PTSD, into municipal police, not to mention Urban Shield, a program billed as “intense training for intense times,” and stop and frisk and arrest quota policies in force in major cities like New York.       

What Happened to ”Serve and Protect?”

According to the Official Story, the 1033 Program was created by the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal 1997 to “transfer excess military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies,” signed into law by Resident Clinton, but fairly hidden from public attention until the murder of Michael Brown by police in 2014 in Ferguson, MO. The most commonly transferred material from federal to municipal custody was ammunition. But after 911, Michael Chertoff, who happens to hold dual citizenship with Israel was instrumental not only in representing the firm manufacturing airport body scanners, but as head of Homeland Security under George Bush, promoted the acquisition of battle-grade hardware—not just ammunition—by municipal “law enforcement.”

According to Max Blumenthal, the “israelization” of American law enforcement began after 9-11, when the federal government began to look to the Israelis for counter-terrorism expertise. In response, the Israel lobby “provided thousands of top cops with all-expense paid trips to Israel and stateside training sessions with Israeli military and intelligence officials.” He states further that many of those trips and trainings were arranged by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), a pro-Israel organization whose advisors have included Douglas Feith and Richard Perle (both of whom hold dual citizenship with Israel).

The chief of the police force, Timothy Fitch, responsible for the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson had received training from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF); the force responsible for nearly killing veteran Scott Olsen during the Oakland Occupy trained with the IDF.

$4.5 taxpayer-funded award to make good for cop mayhem

 Why Israel?

Israeli counter-terrorism expertise is the outgrowth of Israel’s Palestinian policy, a policy which more and more is bring compared to South African apartheid, and to American “Indian removal” policies. It leaves Gaza with fewer than four hours of electricity a day, with black outs and water shortages. Palestinian men and children are being held in Israeli prisons for months on end without trial. Palestinian homes are being bulldozed with impunity and replaced with thousands of illegal settlement units. Repeatedly Israel has been sanctioned by the United Nations for its colonial settler policies, with opposition to those sanctions consistently coming from the United States. I would go so far as to say that Palestinians are among many people of color in the front lines of the world-wide struggle to obtain manumission.

Certain contradictions.

In an August 16 article headlined “Racial Supremacy and the Zionist Exception” David Lloyd points out the contradiction between the readiness by American politicians to condemn the recent White Supremacist events in Charlottesville, VA, with their ardent support for a racist regime in Israel that is no less inspired by racial supremacy and an ideology that supports ethnic cleansing, demonstrated by signing on to a bill that would protect the State of Israel by imposing civil and possible criminal penalties on anyone opposing violations of Palestinian rights, and by advocating the boycott of Israel’s economic, academic or cultural institutions.

Steve Bannon cosies up to dual citizen Sheldon Adelson

My (Jewish) mother-in-law used to say “When you sleep with dogs, you catch fleas.” Of course it sounds even pithier in Polish. American law enforcement has fallen victim to an Israeli flea infestation, and by doing so has yielded United States sovereignty. Until that unholy alliance is ruptured, the United States will remain the client state of Israel.

Sign the Jewish Voice for Peace petition to the Anti-Defamation League to end the deadly exchange with Israeli police that mimics Israeli military occupation.

And now for something you’ll really enjoy:  watch Mozart stick it to Trumpocracy.

A Scattering of Roses Amongst This Week’s Thorns

Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and Obaidullah secured a settlement from James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, the two psychologists who designed and implemented the CIA torture program that ensnared two of them and killed a relative of the third.

Culinary Workers Union in Nevada instrumental in defeating Big Pharma in demanding transparency in insulin pricing.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) had the authority to deny a Clean Water Act permit to four companies planning to construct the Constitution Pipeline, which would have carried fracked gas from Pennsylvania to Eastern New York State. 

Nine Eastern states (five with Republican governors) agree to cut power plant Emissions an extra 90%.
For the second time this week, citing the threat to climate change, another US court rejects a federal regulators approval of a $3.5 billion natural gas pipeline

In Texas, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos rules against Senate Bill 14 voter ID law, on the grounds that it would place a “disproportionate burden” on black and  Latino voters.

Proactive Oberlin Ohio replaces Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Holiday.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

While North Korea Makes Overtures the US Saber Rattles

The Korean War is sometimes referred to as the forgotten war. It may have been quite overlooked by most Americans, but Korea still bears its scars and will for eternity. Now especially, with threat and counter threat, and in the face of an abdicating media, and the very fearsome possibility of a nuclear conflict looming, it is time to remind ourselves of exactly how the American economy hangs on two sectors, one of which happens to be perpetual war. (I leave discussion of the other for an issue on Afghanistan.)

This past week I had the pleasure of listening to three extremely well-informed women speakers who shared their remarks with us on the occasion of Nagasaki Day at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, attended by 200 peace advocates for a nuclear-free world and followed by the non-violent civil disobedience arrest of 42 of us. Here are the remarks of Christine Hong, who joined us last Friday morning from Santa Cruz where she teaches literature and specializes in Korean diaspora and Pacific Rim studies:

I am here speaking before you today because of the terrible urgency of the present crisis with North Korea and the need for those of us in the anti-nukes, peace, and social justice movements in the United States to mobilize en masse to push for peace.

Korea by Picasso
Many of you who have fought for a world without nukes understand that the horror of the atomic bombings of civilian populations at Hiroshima and Nagasaki amount to a terrible stain on the American conscience. Some of you came of age during the era of the brutal American war in Vietnam, and you recall how youth and conscience-stricken people converged in protest, making that time period a watershed moment in the American peace movement. In more recent decades, some of you may have taken part in the anti-war protests, raising your voices in the lead-up to the unconscionable war in Iraq. These have all been signature moments in the grassroots struggle for peace.

By contrast, North Korea, a country that knows more intimately than almost any other what it means to be in the cross-hairs of the U.S. war machine and that the United States has repeatedly threatened with nuclear annihilation has hardly occasioned any organized grassroots action. North Korea does not weigh on the conscience of the American public, though it should. Most Americans have no sense of how intimately the current crisis with North Korea is shaped by the ugly and reckless adventurism of American warmongering and the overwhelming disregard that most Americans demonstrate when the deaths of others as a result of our foreign policy occurs far from U.S. shores. North Korea comes to us in media portraits not in its complex truth, but as a simultaneously cartoonish and demonic portrait filtered through the fog of war, so shrouded in jingoistic rhetoric that too many of us consent to its apocalyptic destruction in advance. 

 When asked this past spring to ponder in real terms what it would mean if Trump were to authorize a nuclear strike against North Korea, Senator Lindsey Graham stated, “Yes, it would be terrible, but the war would be over there. It wouldn’t be here. It would be bad for the Korean peninsula, it would be bad for China, it would be bad for Japan, it would be bad for South Korea, it would be the end of North Korea but what it would not do is hit America.”

Yesterday we were subjected to Trump’s reckless challenge to North Korea, the most terrifying that we’ve yet seen from his administration: If North Korea continues to make threats against the United States, he stated, appearing to draw a red line with regard to North Korean speech acts, it “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Given that his words fall around the somber anniversary of the atomic apocalypse the United States visited on Japan, we are again reminded that the policy-makers in Washington are afflicted with what Chalmers Johnson described as the amnesia of imperial powers.

We don’t recall that at the root of the present crisis is the Korean War, a brutal, dirty, and unresolved war—a war ironically known in this country for being “forgotten” but that set a paradigm for subsequent U.S. wars of intervention to follow. Few, in the mid-twentieth century, during a time of McCarthyism, registered opposition to the Korean War. Paul Robeson was an exception, and he is an example for us now. In a critique of “armed adventure in Korea” that resonates to this day, he lambasted his fellow citizens’ “meek conformity with the policies of the war-minded, the racists, and the rich.”

Robeson unflinchingly observed that “the maw of warmakers [was] insatiable” in Korea. In an asymmetrical conflict in which the United States monopolized the skies, raining down ruin from on high, four million Koreans—the vast majority of them civilians—were killed. Chinese statistics indicate that North Korea lost an unimaginable thirty percent of its population. Civilian infrastructure was not spared. Dams, schools, any standing structure was deemed to be fair game; indeed, American bombers complained that there was nothing left for them to bomb. As the historian Bruce Cumings notes, it was during this period that North Koreans, whom he describes as the “party of memory,” learned how to live below ground. Three days into the war, Truman slapped a punitive round of sanctions against North Korea as an explicit part of his war policy—sanctions not as an alternative to war, this is to say, but as warand North Korea to this day is the most heavily sanctioned nation on this earth. Against the conditions of the 1953 Armistice Agreement, the United States maintains roughly 30,000 forces and 100 military installations south of the DMZ—in stark contrast to China, which withdrew its forces from the peninsula within a short window of time. This is to underscore that for the entirety of its existence, North Korea has been subjected to a regime-change policy from the United States.

 Just as most Americans did not register that the United States test-launched a Minuteman 3 ICBM from Vandenberg last week in a show of force aimed at North Korea—something that is, we should note, routinely done—so too do most Americans not know that at mid-century General Douglas MacArthur contemplated dropping “between 30 and 50 atomic bombs…strung across the neck of Manchuria” in order to create a zone of cobalt where no one could live for at least 60, perhaps over a hundred years, thus making impossible a Chinese advance from the north.In addition to placing nuclear weapons in South Korea for the duration of the Cold War in violation of the Korean War Armistice Agreement, the United States has threatened North Korea with nuclear annihilation on at least a dozen occasions: when North Korea captured the crew of the Pueblo in the late sixties, when Colin Powell threatened to turn North Korea into a “charcoal briquette” in the nineties, when North Korea was added to the list of permissible preemptive targets in the 2002 Nuclear Posture review during the George W. Bush “Axis of Evil” era, when President Obama announced he was sending two Stealth bombers to drop dummy nuclear munitions off the Korean peninsula in a simulated nuclear first strike against North Korea, when Trump administration officials have repeatedly declared that all options are on the table. The unresolved Korean War, U.S. threats of nuclear annihilation, and U.S. regime-change policy are the structural roots of North Korea’s proliferation 

In this time of unprecedented danger, we have to be ruthless not in our threats but in our pursuit of truth, courageous not with our swords but in our willingness to confront our own denial. We have to recognize that North Korea does not require further U.S. intervention but rather that what we are seeing is a result of prior U.S. intervention and a state of unending war. The question before us is what a genuine peace means with North Korea. Few media outlets have reported on North Korea’s overtures to the United States. When it comes to North Korea, media coverage is all too often truly “fake news.” Yet these overtures, if pursued, might result in meaningful de-escalation on both sides. To be clear: there are peaceful alternatives at hand. Far from being an intractable foe, North Korea has repeatedly asked the United States to sign a peace treaty that would bring the unresolved Korean War to a long overdue end. It has also proposed that the United States cease its annual war games with South Korea. North Korea has cautioned the United States not to treat war as a game, especially in the form of the simulated invasion and occupation of North Korea, the “decapitation” of its leadership, and rehearsals of a preemptive nuclear strike. In return, North Korea will cap its nuclear weapons testing. China and Russia have reiterated this proposal. The United States, however, maintains that its joint war games with South Korea are simply business as usual and has not seen fit to respond. On August 21, it plans to proceed with its annual Ulchi-Freedom Guardian joint war exercises.

At mid-century, the vast majority of Americans were silent as this country went to war with North Korea. We cannot, we must not, be silent now.

If you wish, also sign the petition here.

Join a Peace demonstration near you!

A Scattering of of this Week's Roses Amidst the Thorns



White House withdraws nominee, George Nesterczuk, former employee of  the Ukrainian Government, as Director of the Office of Personnel Management.