Boston and Beyond

Published on truthout, by Noam Chomsky, May 2, 2013.

… April is usually a cheerful month in New England, with the first signs of spring, and the harsh winter at last receding. Not this year.

There are few in Boston who were not touched in some way by the marathon bombings on April 15 and the tense week that followed. Several friends of mine were at the finish line when the bombs went off. Others live close to where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the second suspect, was captured. The young police officer Sean Collier was murdered right outside my office building.  

It’s rare for privileged Westerners to see, graphically, what many others experience daily – for example, in a remote village in Yemen, the same week as the marathon bombings.

On April 23, Yemeni activist and journalist Farea Al-Muslimi, who had studied at an American high school, testified before a US Senate committee that right after the marathon bombings, a drone strike in his home village in Yemen killed its target.

The strike terrorized the villagers, turning them into enemies of the United States – something that years of jihadi propaganda had failed to accomplish … //

… There is a long and highly instructive history showing the willingness of state authorities to risk the fate of their populations, sometimes severely, for the sake of their policy objectives, not least the most powerful state in the world. We ignore it at our peril.

There is no need to ignore it right now. A remedy is investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill’s just-published “Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battleground.”

In chilling detail, Scahill describes the effects on the ground of US military operations, terror strikes from the air (drones), and the exploits of the secret army of the executive branch, the Joint Special Operations Command, which rapidly expanded under President George W. Bush, then became a weapon of choice for President Obama.

We should bear in mind an astute observation by the author and activist Fred Branfman, who almost single-handedly exposed the true horrors of the US “secret wars” in Laos in the 1960s, and their extensions beyond.

Considering today’s JSOC-CIA-drones/killing machines, Branfman reminds us about the Senate testimony in 1969 of Monteagle Stearns, US deputy chief of mission in Laos from 1969 to 1972.

Asked why the US rapidly escalated its bombing after President Johnson had ordered a halt over North Vietnam in November 1968, Stearns said, “Well, we had all those planes sitting around and couldn’t just let them stay there with nothing to do.” So we can use them to drive poor peasants in remote villages of northern Laos into caves to survive, even penetrating within the caves with our advanced technology.

JSOC and the drones are a self-generating terror machine that will grow and expand, meanwhile creating new potential targets as they sweep much of the world. And the executive won’t want them just “sitting around.”

It wouldn’t hurt to contemplate another slice of history, at the dawn of the 20th century.

In his book “Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines and the Rise of the Surveillance State,” the historian Alfred McCoy explores in depth the US pacification of the Philippines after an invasion that killed hundreds of thousands through savagery and torture.

The conquerors established a sophisticated surveillance and control system, using the most advanced technology of the day to ensure obedience, with consequences for the Philippines that reach to the present.

And as McCoy demonstrates, it wasn’t long before the successes found their way home, where such methods were employed to control the domestic population – in softer ways to be sure, but not very attractive ones.

We can expect the same. The dangers of unexamined and unregulated monopoly power, particularly in the state executive, are hardly news. The right reaction is not passive acquiescence.
(full text).

Links
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German eurozone exit what Berlin and bloc needs, on Russia Today RT, May 3, 2013: The ECB’s move to cut refinancing rates to a new record low will not solve the eurozone’s problems, believes Robert Oulds, chairman of the Bruges Group. A radical change of policy within the EU is needed to bring about economic growth, he told RT …;

Real ‘price tag’ for gold and silver manipulation by Wall Street, on Russia Today RT, May 2, 2013: … Focusing on gold and silver: the way it works is this, whenever real cash buyers emerge for gold and silver in India, Russia, China, and amongst hard money advocates in the West – Wall St. and the City of London dump hundreds of tons of ‘naked-shorts’ on various futures exchanges (counterfeit futures contracts) that kills the price in the short term …;

Recession à la Russe, on Russia Today RT, May 3, 2013.

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