Here’s the latest version of my list of axioms regarding organisations, the elite, and the war on your mind.
RT has a panel comparing the differing U.S. positions on Ukraine and Yemen. Both had democratically-elected governments deposed by rebels. In Ukraine, the US backs the rebels and criticizes Russia for supporting the deposed government. In Yemen, they are backing the deposed government and supporting the Saudi-lead attacks on the rebels.
Other analysis I found interesting:
All of this serves to continue to underline, for the X-thousandth time, the cornerstone operating principle of the United States: We can do anything, and places we want to conquer can do nothing (the principle of any unreasonable person or group with a lust for power over others).
Part of this principle involves ignoring that, while the Saudis are “desperate to portray this [their invasion of Yemen] as a counter to Iran”, and that is supposed to be the excuse for the aggression (legally, excuses for aggression are irrelevant and to be ignored), Russia would not be allowed to use “countering the US/NATO expansion” as a reason for supporting Ukrainian anti-coup democrats. That would be violating the US principle: you are not allowed to counter the terrorism of the US or its collaborators, such as the freedom-loving Saudi “royal” dictatorship. Thus Russian can have no involvement with eastern Ukrainian democrats, while the US can organize a terrorist army to destroy Syria, as it continues to do.
Trademark Jaw-Dropping US Hypocrisy On Display re Saudi Aggression vs. Russian “Aggression”, Countercurrents.org
For all the talk of protecting state sovereignty, and ensuring regional stability and security, it is clear that different rules apply to different situations. The American endorsement of Saudi actions in Yemen must necessarily be counterposed against Saudi and American attempts to dislodge the Assad regime in Syria, as well as the opprobrium directed towards Russian intervention in Ukraine. While this should not be taken as sufficient reason to support either Assad or Russia, it is equally important to recognize how there is more than a whiff of cynicism around the platitudes currently being mouthed to justify the Saudi military campaign. As always, the conflict is one that is about politics rather than principle, with yet more lives being lost in the pursuit of imperial interests and regional hegemony; another pointless, unnecessary war fought by ‘powers’ that pay for it with the blood of those who have played no role in creating it.
Where angels fear to tread, The Nation
Good luck trying to find much comparison between the U.S.’ position on Yemen and Ukraine in most of the mainstream media this week. Let me know if you find anything.
I read this article by Terry Eagleton in The Guardian tonight and it was so lame that I had to write a rebuttal. My commentary is in **bold.
Equally vacuous is the idea that freedom consists in a total absence of constraint, as in the callow postmodern cult of “options” (the future, one postmodern thinker excitedly remarked, will be just like the present, only with more options). On this theory, the individual confronts a range of possibilities with complete freedom to decide among them. The only problem with this, as Baggini argues, is that such an individual would not be a human subject at all. We decide what to do on the basis of our values, beliefs, temperament, conditioning, predilections and the like – which is to say that it is we who decide, not some blank space. To be entirely free of such constraints would mean that you had no basis at all on which to choose.
Despite the fact that the Egyptian military overthrew a democratically-elected government and then imprisoned 40,000 people, the US has decided to sell them “12 F-16s made by Lockheed Martin Corp., 20 Harpoon missiles from Boeing Co. and kits to assemble 125 M1A1 Abrams tanks from General Dynamics Corp.”
So much for the “Arab Spring” and America’s love of democracy.
How long before these weapons are used to kill more civilians?
They shipped weapons to Iraq and they ended up in the hands on ISIL.
They shipped weapons to Mexico and they ended up in the hands of drug cartels.
They shipped weapons to Yemen and they ended up in the hands of… well, they don’t really know. They just “disappeared”.
I finally bit the bullet yesterday and bought a new Macbook Pro (13″). My 2009 17″ had been on life support for the best part of 18 months and the cost of keeping it running was delivering diminishing returns.
The problem I have now is: how do I live with only 256 GB internal storage?
Here’s what I’ve set up so far but I’d be happy for suggestions on how to improve it.
1. Previously I had my DOCUMENTS folder sitting inside GOOGLE DRIVE. It was pretty large (>65GB). So I’ve set up HAZEL to automatically grab files that either a) haven’t been modified in the last six months or b) are larger than 50MB and haven’t been modified in the last week, and move them into a Dropbox folder which sits on a portable USB drive, maintaining the same folder structure. So I still have access to those files in the cloud, but they are off my local drive.
2. For redundancy purposes, I’ve got SYNC FOLDER PRO set up to automatically keep the portable drive in sync with an old 4TB drive I have on my desk. So when I’m traveling, I can take my 1TB drive with me – if it gets lost, stolen or fries, I have a backup. My photos and videos are all on the 1TB drive too, so they are always being backed up in case of disaster.
3. Of course I have TIME MACHINE backing up my internal drive.
4. And I’m keeping all of the documents that are less than six months old in GOOGLE DRIVE.
Any suggestions on better ways of living with a small hard drive?
According to Sourcewatch, Physicians For Social Responsibility was founded in 1961 and “is a non-profit advocacy organization that is the medical and public health voice for policies to stop nuclear war and proliferation and to slow, stop and reverse global warming and toxic degradation of the environment.”
PSR’s new report “Body Count Of The War On Terror” calculates around 1 million people dead in Iraq as a direct result of the US-lead invasion in 2003.
This investigation comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs. And this is only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.
PSR cautions us to be careful of accepting the estimates from Western governments and media:
Unfortunately, the media often portray passively collected figures as the most realistic aggregate number of war casualties. Valuable as they may be for gaining a preliminary impression on the extent of violence, they can only serve as minimum numbers. And unsurprisingly, the numbers supplied by the involved Western governments and the organizations close to them also do not produce a complete picture, since they mainly publish what is absolutely undeniable. Whoever wants to trace the actual number of war casualties will have to look for them actively, as was done, for instance, in the 2006 study in Iraq published by the renowned medical journal Lancet.
Further to my recent post on the same subject, it’s worth remembering this number when you hear the media and governments talking about what the brutality of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.
When their side kill civilians, it’s brutality and they are terrorists and a death cult.
When our side does it, it’s “regime change” or “spreading democracy” or “collateral damage”.
Good luck finding a mention of this report in your local news.
(Thanks to podcast listener Paula Davis for the link!)
When you’re reading the news about ISIL’s bloody campaign to get political control of Iraq, it’s worth keeping in mind another bloody campaign to get political control of Iraq that started 12 years ago, lead by the US, with coalition partners including Australia and the UK.
According to the Iraq Body Count project, the current death toll of the ISIL insurgency since 2011 stands at around 38,000. That’s about 13,000 a year (although the annual number is growing steeply).
Comparatively, Iraq Body Count project found 174,000 Iraqis reported killed between 2003 and 2013, with between 112,000-123,000 of those killed being civilian noncombatants. That works out to about 17,400 a year.
Other sources, such as a Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll conducted August 12–19, 2007, estimated 1,033,000 violent deaths due to the US invasion, or about 258,000 a year for the first four years.
The PLOS Medicine Survey estimated 500,000 deaths in Iraq as direct or indirect result of the invasion from March 2003 to June, 2011, about 62,600 a year.
Of course, all of these figures are speculative, but at first glance, it looks like the Iraqi death toll under ISIL is much lower than it was under the US invasion.
I’m fascinated to watch how the world’s media is heaping posthumous praise on Lee Kuan Yew and compare it to their depiction of his contemporaries, like Fidel Castro they took power in the same year and are about the same age. Despite many similar aspects of their countries – a clamp down on political dissent, effectively single party rule, harsh treatment of homosexuality, limits on the right of assembly, nepotism, limits on freedom of the press, etc – LKY gets praised, mostly because he turned Singapore into a beacon of capitalism. Castro, on the other hand, has been the subject of continual criticism for 50 years because he threw the capitalists out of the country.
In a glowing obit, the NYT says LKY was “efficient, unsentimental, incorrupt, inventive, forward-looking and pragmatic” and has little negative to say about his authoritarian rule. Instead: “His leadership was sometimes criticized for suppressing freedom, but the formula succeeded. Singapore became an international business and financial center admired for its efficiency and low level of corruption.”
The lesson? Authoritarian capitalism = good. Authoritarian communism = bad. Even though they both rank highly in the UN Human Development Index, only one of them has been the subject of economic sanction for 50 years. It’s not the authoritarianism that the Western elite have a problem with – it’s what you do with it. If you’re a capitalist, everything else doesn’t matter apparently.