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September 5, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, Uncategorized, War.
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March on Washington to say “Vote NO to war against Syria!”
Saturday, September 7 @ 12 noon
Gather at the White House + March to the Capitol Building

http://www2.answercoalition.org/site/R?i=FYvwLz3iiVZIdUFBIVTyLg http://www2.answercoalition.org/site/R?i=-eh7fciSmoHw_9ivoqxoHg http://www2.answercoalition.org/site/R?i=yCYD7HsOXp_kEPgBXYalXA

Get on the bus to DC! Help spread the word!

Dear roger,

Now is the time for the people to step up pressure on Congress and demand that they vote NO to any resolution authorizing a military attack on Syria. Time is of the essence.

On Saturday, September 7, people are descending on Washington, D.C., for a major demonstration that will assemble at the White House at 12 Noon and then march on the Capitol Building as Congress returns to and prepares to vote. This demonstration is endorsed by the ANSWER Coalition, CODEPINK, UNAC and many other organizations.

Get on the bus to DC!

A bus will be leaving from New York City to the demonstration on Saturday morning. Get your bus ticket right now to attend this urgent March on Congress!

http://www2.answercoalition.org/site/R?i=74fORVPAiPPrcccAVJivjQGet your NYC bus ticket today!

Get info about transportation from:

Help spread the word!

We Refuse to Live in Fear! September 12, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Civil Liberties.
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Roger’s note: I fell off my chair with laughter yesterday when I read these words from Obama.
 
Published on Monday, September 12, 2011 by Salon.com

 

President Obama, in his weekend radio address to the nation:

They wanted to terrorize us, but, as Americans, we refuse to live in fear.

ABC News, yesterday:

Fighter planes were scrambled, bomb squads were called, FBI command centers went on alert and police teams raced to airports today, but in the end two separate airline incidents were caused by apparently innocent bathroom breaks and a little “making out,” federal officials said.

Earlier this year, the Obama White House reversed the Attorney General’s decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for his alleged crimes in a federal court in New York, and Congress prohibited Guantanamo detainees generally from being tried on U.S. soil, due to fears that the Terrorists would use their heat-vision to melt their shackles and escape or would summon their Terrorist friends to attack the courthouse and free them into the community — even though none of that has ever happened, and even though almost every other county on the planet that suffered similar Terrorist attacks (Britain, Spain, India, Indonesia) tried the perpetrators in their regular courts in the cities where the attacks occurred.  In 2009, President Obama demanded the power to abolish the most basic right — not to be imprisoned without having been convicted of a crime  — by “preventively detaining” people who, in his words, “cannot be prosecuted yet [] pose a clear danger.”  During the Bush years, The Washington Post quoted a military official warning Americans that the most extreme security measures are needed against Guantanamo detainees because these are “people who would chew through a hydraulic cable to bring a C-17 down.

Meanwhile, America continues to transfer hundreds of billions of dollars to a private Security State industry — for the most ludicrous security systems — to turn itself into what Kevin Drum last week called “Fortress America.”  Drum quoted from Bob Schieffer’s book in which the CBS News host recounts how “the Pentagon, like most of official Washington, was still open to the public in the 1970s.…No one was required to show identification to enter the building, nor were security passes required.”  But now, writes Drum:

Ordinary office buildings require IDs before they’ll let you in. Taking pictures is a suspicious activity. Airplanes return to the gate because someone in seat 34A got scared of a guy in a turban a couple of rows in front of them. Small children are swabbed down for bomb residue. . . . .

Now compare Schieffer’s recollection with this passage from Wednesday’s New York Times feature, “Fortress D.C.“:

________________________

“Some things are obvious: the Capitol Hill police armed with assault rifles, standing on the Capitol steps; concrete barricades blocking the once-grand entrances to other federal buildings; the surface-to-air missile battery protecting the White House; the National Archives security guards, almost as old as the Declaration of Independence enshrined inside, slowly waving a magnetic wand over all who enter. But most of the post-9/11 security measures have simply been embedded in the landscape and culture of the nation’s capital.

“From the reflecting pool at the foot of the Capitol to the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial, government cameras take pictures of citizens, who smile for Big Brother and snap their own pictures of the government cameras. In the $561 million underground Capitol visitors center, completed in 2008, people clutching gallery passes from a senator’s or representative’s office are funneled through magnetometers, to witness a secure Congress in its sealed chambers.” . . . .

________________________

The protective apparatus we’ve put in place, both the less visible surveillance state and the highly visible security state, will be with us forever. And they’ll get worse and worse: If the past decade is any judge, Americans seem willing to put up with an almost unlimited amount of this stuff as long as it’s done in the name of protecting us from terrorism. The only thing that’s provoked any serious reaction at all has been backscatter scanners in airports — and not because they represent any kind of real government overreach, but because people have a knee-jerk revulsion to the idea of having “nude” pictures of themselves taken.

That gets us upset. But hundreds of billions of dollars spent to relentlessly harden the routines of our daily lives? Our apparent attitude toward that, to paraphrase our former president, is “bring it on.”

But remember: “as Americans” — rugged, courageous individualists — “we refuse to live in fear.”  Courtesy of The Daily Mail, enjoy some images of 9/11 Day in the Home of the Brave, including some as the President who delivered that stalwart decree spoke to the nation:

Obviously, reasonable security measures — to protect the President and otherwise — are perfectly appropriate.  But the very idea that America hasn’t been converted into a paramilitarized Nation of Fear is absurd on its face.  Most foreign policy and domestic civil liberties erosions are grounded in little other than that.  Meanwhile, in a New York Times Op-Ed this weekend, Ahmed Rashid describes how rapidly (and predictably) anti-Americanism has grown in Pakistan and Afghanistan over the last several years even among those previously favorable to the United States; perhaps some day we’ll make the connection between what we are doing over there and what we consequently do to ourselves at home.
© 2011 Salon.com

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Glenn Greenwald was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book “How Would a Patriot Act?,” a critique of the Bush administration’s use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, “A Tragic Legacy“, examines the Bush legacy. His next book is titled “With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful.”

‘Nobel Peace Prize-Winner Barack Obama Ups Spending on Nuclear Weapons to Even More Than George Bush’ January 30, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Nuclear weapons/power.
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(Roger’s note: George Orwell would be proud: bombs = security; war = peace)
Published on Saturday, January 30, 2010 by the Daily Telegraph/UKby Carol Driver

President Obama is planning to increase spending on America’s nuclear weapons stockpile just days after pledging to try to rid the world of them.

[]

In his budget to be announced on Monday, Mr Obama has allocated £4.3billion to maintain the U.S. arsenal – £370million more than George Bush spent on nuclear weapons in his final year. 

The Obama administration also plans to spend a further £3.1billion over the next five years on nuclear security.

The announcement comes despite the American President declaring nuclear weapons were the ‘greatest danger’ to U.S. people during in his State of the Union address on Wednesday.

And it flies in the face of Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to him in October for ‘his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples’.

The Nobel committee was attacked at the time for bestowing the accolade on a new president whose initiatives are yet to bear fruit – which included reducing the world stock of nuclear arms.The budget is higher than that allocated by George Bush – who was seen by many as a warmongering president in the wake of the Iraq invasion in 2003 – during his premiership.

During his 70-minute State of the Union speech on Wednesday, which marked his first year in office, Obama said: ‘I have embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan through a strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons, and seeks a world without them.’

However, Vice President Joe Biden today supported the increase on nuclear weapons maintenance, saying: ‘Even in a time of tough budget decisions, these are investments we must make for our security.

‘We are committed to working with Congress to ensure these budget increases are approved.’

Biden said the Obama administration had inherited a ‘steady decline’ in support for U.S. nuclear stockpiles and infrastructure.

‘For almost a decade, our laboratories and facilities have been underfunded and undervalued,’ he said.

‘The consequences of this neglect – like the growing shortage of skilled nuclear scientists and engineers and the ageing of critical facilities – have largely escaped public notice.

‘The budget we will submit to Congress on Monday both reverses this decline and enables us to implement the president’s nuclear-security agenda.’

He added: ‘This investment is long overdue. It will strengthen our ability to recruit, train and retain the skilled people we need to maintain our nuclear capabilities.

‘It will support the work of our nuclear labs, a national treasure that we must and will sustain.’

The Obama administration will publish its budget for fiscal year 2011 on Monday.

The proposal will include a budget increase for nuclear issues while paring back other areas in an effort to control record deficits.

Biden said those steps along with others to advance non-proliferation were essential to ‘holding nations like North Korea and Iran accountable when they break the rules, and deterring others from trying to do so’.

© 2010 Daily Telegraph/UK

Robert McNamara and Smedley Butler July 13, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in History, Vietnam, War.
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Published on Monday, July 13, 2009 by CommonDreams.org by Tom Gallagher
There’s been a lot of ink spilled in the past week over how we ought to think about the late Robert McNamara. (And yes, real ink, not just virtual – even the remaining real newspapers were in on it.) Does the fact that he came to realize that the Vietnam War (“McNamara’s War” to some) was wrong even as he continued to pursue it as Lyndon Johnson’s Defense Secretary make him a better or a worse person? And what of his willingness to say it publicly – but only three decades later? There may be a more useful way to think about him, however. And it involves considering him not in conjunction with, say, Henry Kissinger, who followed a course similar to his but apparently without hesitation, but more in terms of General Smedley Butler, someone who did learn from his experience.

Butler, of course, achieved far greater clarity than the ever-hedging McNamara did. Butler’s story is fairly well known: four years after a military career that included service in Cuba, China, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Mexico, Haiti, and France, he wrote a book called “War is a Racket.” He gave speeches in which he would say things like, “during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”

Whether any of this later-in-life understanding made Butler a better or worse person I do not know. What I do know, though, is that what Butler was willing to say and write was extremely helpful to more than one generation of antiwar activists: “Hey, you don’t have to take my word for it. Listen to this guy, he should know.”

Likewise, I suggest to no one that they should get over their antipathy to Robert McNamara if that is what they feel – the evil that he and Kissinger and the rest did will long outlive them. And anyone who no longer hates the criminals should certainly remain outraged at their crimes. But let us take something of value out of McNamara’s life.

When we encounter potential military recruits looking to serve in one of the nation’s seemingly always available wars but not looking too closely at exactly what it is we’re fighting for because they assume our leaders wouldn’t lead them astray on matters of life and death, let’s tell them about Robert McNamara. If the man in charge of one of our wars could later write that what the US did at the time was “wrong, terribly wrong,” don’t we all owe it to ourselves to take a closer look at where those in power are leading us today?

And when it comes to questioning the conduct of modern war, it’s hard to beat McNamara’s comments in Errol Morris’ documentary film “The Fog of War”: “We burned to death 100,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo — men, women and children,” he told Morris. “[General Curtis] LeMay said, ‘If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.’ And I think he’s right. He — and I’d say I — were behaving as war criminals.” And that was World War II he was talking about – the “good war.” Words to keep in mind the next time one of our drones accidently bombs a wedding.

A remark of McNamara’s made during a C-SPAN discussion of his 1995 memoir, “Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam,” is a good reminder of just how infuriating he could be, right to the end. In regard to Vietnam, he told his interviewer, “We were fighting — and we didn’t realize it — a civil war. Now, true, obviously there were Soviet and Chinese influence and support and no question that the communists were trying to control South Vietnam, but it was basically a civil war.”

Well, if McNamara didn’t know it was a civil war, it wasn’t because tens of thousands of the war’s opponents hadn’t said so or because President Eisenhower hadn’t publicly acknowledged that Ho Chi Minh would have been elected president of Vietnam in a fair election.

But even if McNamara may never have been a man to be taken entirely at his word, what he went on to say on C-SPAN that day might just have some value today as the US plunges deeper into an already nearly eight year old war in Afghanistan: “And one of the things we should learn is you can’t fight and win a civil war with outside troops, and particularly not when the political structure in a country is dissolved.”

 
Tom Gallagher is a San Francisco antiwar activist who initiated last November’s successful Proposition U calling upon the city’s congressional representatives to vote no further funding for the Iraq War.  He is a past member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.  Contact him at TGTGTGTGTG@aol.com
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