I give no consent to my location, ID and my data being gathered (bulk connections). I have nothing to hide but I like my privacy as a woman. I realise the company’s believe they own my data and believe they can sell it. I do not give consent.
NOTES: Snowden’s comments –
Central problem is you do not know what the phone is doing!
According to Snowden you can turn off your phone but how do you know it is off he says. Old phones mean you can take the battery out that stops signals. The phones now are sealed. Airplane mode doesn’t turn off wifi. We don’t know what the phone is doing or what it is connected to? Apps talk want it to stop after using e.g. messenger, weather app. People need to be able to make intelligent decisions not just app by app on a connection by connection basis. You may use Facebook – want to connect to Facebook content servers, want to be able message a friend but you don’t want it to talk to an ad server or analytics server or third party (monitoring your behaviour). Facebook crams them (third party) into every app you download, you don’t know as you can see it, problem with data collection today. Industry built on keeping this invisible. Need to make activities of our devices (iPhone, computer) more visible and understandable to the average person and give them control. Say there is a little green icon spokes coming off, every app your phone is talking to, all hosts talking to. Once every 3 seconds phone is checking in with Facebook. No-one wants spying. If people could press a button to turn off apps ie. Facebook etc. People would want no spying. Google and Apple do not allow the button to exist. If the companies think it is not understood, too complex then it needs to be simplified. It is a problem.
Stories data breached, companies spying here or there, manipulating purchases, search results, hiding things on your timeline – influence and manipulate in different ways. Happens as a result of single problem – which is inequality of available information. They can see everything about you , what you device is doing, they can do anything with your device. You paid for the device, increasingly governments and corporations own it. we do all the work, pay taxes, costs… People work hard but they are owning less. The young people do not know what they are losing.
Data became a commodity, valuable to Google an social media platform, making billions of dollars earned, people are accustomed, difficult to turn that horse around. Snowden says money becomes power and influence. Information becomes influence.
Surveilance states they won’t relinquish as they embed this reality. The permanent record is the story of our lives.
Permanent record is the subject of the book.
You life how intentionally BY DESIGN both government and corporate realised it was in their mutual interest to conceal data collection activities to increase the breadth and depth of their sensor networks spread out throughout society. Back in the day Intelligence collection in US (sigin) was sending FBI agent to put alligator clips in a building, or disguised as a workman bug in a building or built satellite listening, in desert, parabolic collector listening to satellite emissions. Satellite links were owned by military and exclusive to government not affecting everyone broadly, all surveillance was targeted. What changed with technology was surveillance becomes indiscriminately, dragnet, ‘bulk collection’ should become dirties phrases in the language if we have decency. This this was intentionally concealed from us, government did it used classification, companies did it, denied it, they say you agreed to this. You didn’t agree to anything. They say they put Terms of Service page up, you clicked. You clicked a button said I Agree when you are trying to open an account to talk to friends, email etc. You were not agreeing to 600 page legal form, even if read you wouldn’t understand. Even if did, the first para says this agreement can be changed anytime by the company.
NOTE: They built a legal paradigm that presumes RECORDS collected about us DO NOT BELONG TO US. This is one of the core principles on which mass surveillance from the government perspective in US is legal. Government says it is legal, it is fine. Our perspective as a public, says that is the problem this isn’t okay, the scandal is not in their breaking the law, it is in that they DON’T HAVE TO BREAK THE LAW. It is called a third party doctrine, legal principle Smith vs Maryland. Established a precedent that the record don’t belong to the guy they belong to the company. The company has ownership over records, back in 1970s. Still relying on this precedent. No-one has a privacy right over their lives (data collection). Not data being manipulated but PEOPLE being MANIPULATED.
Everyone jumps on the bandwagon to make money without a backward glance to the social cost to democracy.I personally do not feel safe and I do not want people I do not know where I am and gathering my data about what I do, where I go, who I speak to, who my friends are. I don’t want people accessing my blog if they are monitoring me rather than reading my blog out of interest. It is a form of surveillance. This feels to me like stalking. I am alarmed by the facts raised above that my data is not mine, YES IT IS. What I am doing now is my thoughts on a page they do not belong to WordPress, the IP company or those surveilling me. I revoke other rights that state I have agreed, I haven’t. This provides insights into FOI requests and why no data is forthcoming. I am not fully informed.
I have real concerns about the medical effects cancer and EMF with iPhones. This is a real problem.
The apps are companies they are not just little icons (analytics) and it is too much for the average person to understand and make clear decisions.
The homeless guy living in the bush I met recently is probably right to be there. He is free. He is not accessing digital. He has let go of this society. I can understand why that is a good thing.
Below the following quoted extracts is an excellent article which provides insights into the nature of global alliances with a focus on the United States policy which are leading our world to possibly another World War, I felt inspiration around this today. It feels like a long journey researching but ultimately it lead me to contemplate global war and the deaths of innocent civilians who are the ones who pay the price for military misadventure in what I view as a sub-zero sum game (no-one wins, diminishes real wealth) in the name of peace when peace was never the true intent.
I contemplate the Opportunity Cost of military/ imperialist/ capitalist strategies and where the money could have gone had it not been funnelled into fighting wars for domination but rather than learning of peace (balance) to ensure homeostasis, equilibrium and harmony. I use ecological words as this is the real foundation of peace and abundance. Yet in our primitive states of mind our world has believed that control and dominance is security, when it was always the opposite.
I deeply contemplate the extraordinary loss of innocent life, the suffering of their families and the real insecurity that has been created by warfare touted as protection. The people’s of the world in actual fact are the ones that always suffer at the hands of those who believe they are either born to rule or somehow appointed by God (god given right) to rule over others, when they are not. What if our purpose here on earth is to find true happiness and share our wealth as there is no enemy only infinite possibility. That was the true essence of family.
Here is a important quote highlighting disproportionate wealth. It is a scenario repeating itself today as we don’t learn from history (his story). What I find interesting is that those who believe this thinking would be the first to evoke the need for a International Court of Justice if their family’s human rights were violated. Such is the hypocracy and nature of objectivization and detached strategic thinking that ignores humanity and the true purpose to maintain peace and security. And points to why the Middle East is a disaster for the people’s of that region and the world.
George Kennan, head of the US State Department planning staff until 1950, and his comments on US relations with Far East stated:
we have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population….In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity….To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives….We should cease to talk about vague and…unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.
George Kennan, U.S. State Department Policy Planning, Study #23, February 24, 1948
A quote that speaks to the real purpose of resource use. This is what I envisage will happen in the future…
Virtually the entire colonial world was breaking free and their resources would be turned to the care of their own people and no longer could be siphoned to the old imperial centers of capital for a fraction of its value.
Another interesting quote about how to control:
Many monarchs were not even local. They were the ones that could be allied to the imperial rulers and counted on to control local populations. As Britain had learned for decades, and so sharply remembered by people of India, large populations could be controlled by relatively tiny administrations by divide and conquer tactics keeping or creating antagonism between local groups, keeping borders small …
And another revealing the power brokers disrupting countries:
Once small weak countries are established, it is very difficult to persuade their rulers to give up power and form those many dependent states into one economically viable nation. Conversely, it is easy for outside power brokers to support an exploitative faction to maintain or regain power. None of this can ever be openly admitted to or the neo-mercantilist world would fall apart. The fiction of sovereign governments, equal rights, fair trade, etc., must continue. To be candid is to invite immediate widespread rebellion and loss of control.
And a military quote by S. Brian Willson, a U.S. Vietnam War veteran, now a peace activist highlighting the real destabilising issue of poverty (not terrorism) and how military’s are used for business and financiers objectives:
The most highly decorated Marine Corps General in U.S. history, Smedley D. Butler understood all too well the real nature of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. foreign policy in general when he concluded after his retirement in 1931 that during his 33 years as a Marine officer operating on three continents, he served as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers…a gangster for capitalism [Smedley D. Butler, America’s Armed Forces, Part 2, Common Sense, Vol. 4, No. 11 (Nov. 1935)]. But it seems that that understanding is easily forgotten. General A.M. Gray, former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, in 1990 identified threats to the United States as originating from the underdeveloped world’s growing dissatisfaction over the gap between rich and poor nations, creating a fertile breeding ground for insurgencies which have the potential to jeopardize regional stability and our access to vital economic and military resources (Marine Corps Gazette, May 1990). Gray understands the structural social and economic problems, but it apparently does not occur to him that the solution might be to directly address the injustices rather than perpetuate them with the use of military force. S. Brian Willson, Who are the REAL terrorists?, Institute for Policy Research and Development, 1999
The quote below is the Hebrew meaning of peace, imagine if everyone lived it, we would realise peace. Perhaps the Jews and Muslims who say ‘shalom’ and mean it as peace can show us The Way home.
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom which is derived from one of the names of God. Hebrew root word for “complete” or “whole” implying that according to Judaism and the teachings of the Torah, only when there is a true state of “wholeness” meaning that everything is “complete” does true “peace” reign.
A last quote on terrorism and real security by Associate Professor Stephen Zunes:
To win the war against terrorism, we need to reevaluate our definition of security. The more the U.S. militarizes the Middle East, the less secure we have become. All the sophisticated weaponry, all the brave fighting men and women, and all the talented military leadership we may possess will not stop terrorism as long as our policies cause millions of people hate us.
President George W. Bush is wrong when he claims we are targeted because we are a beacon for freedom. We are targeted because the support of freedom is not part of our policy in the Middle East, which has instead been based upon alliances with repressive governments and support for military occupation. We would be much safer if the U.S. supported a policy based more on human rights, international law, and sustainable development — and less on arms transfers, air strikes, and punitive sanctions.
The article below is about the control of resources and US supporting dictators and the rise of terrorism from a range of perspectives. How long is Pinocchio’s nose, such is a lie when told often enough, it keeps growing. What I have learned is that often those who are deceptive (within nation states not nations per se) promote they are doing the opposite. They support human rights, they support charities, care for children, the disabled, invest in sustainability, rebuild, or call out corruption but what I am realising is this is how people hide behind carefully crafted lies, promote themselves as ‘doing good’ whilst undermining others through labels that sticks and repeated enough to become history. The public are not informed so they believe them. Keeping the public ignorant is a strategy. It is how bullying and propaganda works in a world that has lost its way unable to see the whole. Democracy and freedom are words that have been used to justify violence and harm, yet violence is the very opposite of democracy and freedom. Yet no-one says anything blindly believing what they are told as they are trained to obey rather than critically think and ask ‘is it true?’.
My research is to answer the question – what is true? I have a right to know what has happened to my world and how this impacts my life as both are intricately linked. I care about the future of children. Do you? If so, you must educate yourself. Find sources that are credible. This one appears well written and credible to me, I am aware of Noam Chomsky who has studied US policy for 50 years or so. Refer his background. He is American from a Jewish background and a peacemaker living wholeness. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noam_Chomsky
As we saw in the previous section, for centuries, due to the power politics and struggle over the control of resources in the Middle East, various powers have supported numerous controversial regimes. The United States, Britain, France, and others supported dictatorships and monarchies, even overthrowing democracies.
To the populations back home the reason often given for this was for freedom, stability, containing the Soviet Union and so on. For the people of the region that had their popular leaders overthrown and replaced with corrupt rulers, this was surely not freedom. Communism was an often used reason around the world, not just the Middle East, even if it was not the case. As Noam Chomsky details, it was often a convenient excuse, but the underlying threat was often that nations might be able to use their own resources and be an example for others to follow.
Furthermore, what was going on around the world at the time of the end of the Second World War and the geopolitical changes that resulted are critical to understanding the policies and events in the Middle East. To summarize (notes for sources are below):
With Europe weakened, the majority of the world, which was then under imperial and colonial rule, saw their chance to break free.
Nationalist, revolutionary, and independence movements (some violent, some peaceful) all started to take hold and Europe had little ability to maintain control.
The sole remaining power that was really intact after the Second World War was the United States.
Allied with Europe, the U.S. helped them rebuild with a massive injection of capital. The U.S. was also an imperial power for the past few decades, as pointed out by numerous writers such as Mark Twain, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, J.W. Smith, Walden Bello and many others. The U.S. was now the de facto leader of the West.
The Soviet Union, on the other hand, having faced the brunt of Hitler’s forces, (some 80 percent of his armies), like Europe, had lost a considerable amount and had been decimated; there was between 7 to 27 million dead, much industry and infrastructure had been destroyed, much agriculture and livestock had been destroyed, and so on. Like most of the world breaking free, it did not have much economic assistance to rebuild, but was still able to recover quickly to partake in a terrible Cold War (see J.W. Smith quoted below, for more on this).
Due to its rapid development and power, the Soviet Union additionally threatened to be an example for the other newly free nations that rapid independent development was possible. But this also meant a massive diversion of the traditional resources that had been flowing out of the global South, to those imperial centers of capital.
To the West, then, the Soviet Union, from the start (decades earlier) was seen as evil while to the third world, it was perhaps seen as an example that independent development was possible. It may not have necessarily been seen as a direct model to follow (as its economic policies were flawed, even without the diversion of the Cold War, as well as the horrors and massacres resulting from the paranoia of Stalin, etc), but it was the idea that a nation could develop somewhat successfully, quickly, and without much assistance, that was a real threat to the West’s historic source of resources. Indeed, the Non-aligned Movement was as such yet another alternative, for example.
The countryside was reclaiming its resources.
The centuries-old view of the South, from the perspective of the West, was now changing. As Chomsky describes, almost with cruel humor, the South was viewed as a service provider, and if possible that was what had to be maintained, in order to preserve the wealth and balance of power:
As J.W. Smith points out, with the weakening of the former Imperial European powers from World War II, Virtually the entire colonial world was breaking free and their resources would be turned to the care of their own people and no longer could be siphoned to the old imperial centers of capital for a fraction of its value.
This control of resources being the main concern was recognized by the U.S. policy planners and was a major aspect of foreign policy strategy after World War II. Consider for example, George Kennan, head of the US State Department planning staff until 1950, and his comments on US relations with Far East:
The Cold War, then, as well as being a struggle against Communism, also provided an appropriate pretext for actions by the West around the world (led by the United States) that could be attributed to the claims of Soviet involvement, even if there wasn’t any. Chomsky is worth quoting again:
Many nations that were subsequently destabilized by the Americans, British and others were claimed to be due to this Soviet threat, but in many cases (not all), there was no Soviet involvement. In many cases, these were just nations that had gained their freedom trying to develop. In fact, many did not want to follow the Soviet example of centralized planning. (And, as J.W. Smith details in the above-mentioned book and further on in that above-cited chapter, the Soviets themselves realized that their economic system needed changes a few decades later.)
As Smith, Chomsky and others detail, some turned to the U.S. for guidance, given the very good Constitution and other principles. The U.S. helped in some cases, not in others. For some, then, where help was not available, they either turned to the Soviets (the other superpower which had resources to help), or to themselves.
Independent development threatened the loss of power, influence and cheap raw materials for the powerful nations. The Vietnam experience suggested that an empire of the type that Britain once had was not likely to be politically feasible. So instead, a new strategy was needed. As Stephen Zunes describes, the Nixon Doctrine (also known as the Guam Doctrine or “surrogate strategy”) came into being, wherein Vietnamization [reliance on South Vietnamese conscripts and a dramatically increased air war that minimized American casualties] evolved into a global policy of arming and training third world allies to become regional gendarmes for American interests. Many rulers in the third world have been supported into power as a result.(* See below for some sources detailing this perspective and history)
The Middle East at the center for struggle over control of resources
The Middle East, then, has been quite important, geopolitically, due to the resources, and oil in particular.
Because this has formed a backbone to the wealth of many nations today, maintaining control of those resources has been paramount. Hence, presence in the Middle East is for stability of oil flows:
Any chance that those resources would be used in different ways is naturally a threat to those who currently benefit.
Furthermore, was there a chance that the Soviet Union could get influence in the Middle East, resources would have been further been taken away from the influence and control of the West, as Smith highlights:
As a standard policy of state, nations have to keep an eye on such things.
In the geopolitically and ideologically charged chess games, such threats, if possible, must be contained.
The stronger, more powerful nations are obviously better equipped with more political, economic and military means. Therefore, they can be more effective in getting and ensuring their way. This makes sense from a power politics perspective. One of the main responsibilities (if not the main one) for heads of states is to ensure their nations interests are met. Diplomacy and so forth are directed by such interests.
Hence, as mentioned above, those frightened security councils were frightened at the prospect of losing more control. To them, their freedom was at stake. Yet, not mentioned to the populations back home was that this freedom was based on centuries of war and conquest and in the Middle East this was all about control of resources and geopolitical power. Hence, the freedom of some was based on non-freedom of others. (See also this web site’s section on behind consumption which provides more statistics and details of economic policies that lead to this skewed use of resources around the globe.)
The United States and Western Europe were therefore prepared to protect one of the sources of their wealth and power. They was prepared to go to many lengths to do so. For example,
Massive amounts of capital injection direct, and indirect, via Japan and international institutions, helped in developing and extending freedoms to various other East Asian nations. This would serve to contain threats such as Soviet expansion. Wars were fought, or dictators supported, if needed. (See Smith, Chomsky, Gowan, Bello, etc. mentioned below in the sources for more details.)
Throughout Latin America and Africa, various democracies were overthrown and dictators supported, or malleable pseudo democracies were supported. (See the Noam Chomsky Archive, also mentioned below, for far more details, including detailed research on destabilization of various Latin American democracies that did not have Soviet influence that was claimed. See also this site’s section on conflicts in Africa, and on the arms trade.)
In the Middle East, control of natural resources has been centuries-old politics. It had not changed, although the players may have, slightly.
Indian author and Booker Prize winner, Arundhati Roy, describes in the British newspaper, The Guardian, the result of American sponsored actions: millions killed in Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia, the 17,500 killed when Israel — backed by the US — invaded Lebanon in 1982, the 200,000 Iraqis killed in Operation Desert Storm, the thousands of Palestinians who have died fighting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. And the millions who died, in Yugoslavia, Somalia, Haiti, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Panama, at the hands of all the terrorists, dictators and genocidists whom the American government supported, trained, bankrolled and supplied with arms. And this is far from being a comprehensive list. (Arundhati Roy, The algebra of infinite justice, The Guardian, September 29, 2001)
With almost all the above, as researched heavily by Chomsky, Smith and others, these were nations where there was a possibly successful independent development; independent from Western influence and, in many cases, independent from Soviet influence. However, the Soviet/communist excuse was used as a pretext for these interventions. Various well-known criminals and human rights abusers were trained by the United States, for example. The School of the Americas is a well known example of this, as also mentioned on this web site (see the previous link). The United States therefore participated directly, or indirectly, in many wars and conflicts. In the Middle East, it was no different. William Blum, investigative journalist, and former employee at the U.S. State Department, where he resigned in 1967 over the Vietnam war is worth quoting here:
A divided people; The West’s support for dictators and monarchies over democracies
Already, before World War II, as mentioned in the previous section, various monarchs had been put in place in various countries whose borders had been defined mainly by British and French colonial administrations. Many monarchs were not even local. They were the ones that could be allied to the imperial rulers and counted on to control local populations. As Britain had learned for decades, and so sharply remembered by people of India, large populations could be controlled by relatively tiny administrations by divide and conquer tactics keeping or creating antagonism between local groups, keeping borders small and so on, so as to make uniting as difficult as possible. (Of course, it proved not to be impossible.) It is worth quoting Smith again, to highlight the geopolitical significance of this:
(Side Note»Note also Smith’s reference to a neo-mercantilist world as opposed to what is often referred to as free trade. Globalization, then, for many around the world is seen as a sophisticated continuation of plunder, but through economic means. That is, it is seen by many as a continuation of subtle monopoly capitalism compared to free market capitalism, as it is often claimed to be. For more on that angle, see this site’s section on poverty, trade and globalization.)
In this web site’s section’s Africa introduction, it is pointed out how in 1885, the Berlin Conference saw the European nations create borders in Africa that met the interests of the Europeans, and allowed them to try to share the spoils of Africa between them. European culture at that time had already labeled the African people and their cultures as non-civilized and not having rights, and hence justified such things as slavery, carving up borders as they saw fit, etc. As mentioned earlier, Middle Eastern people (Arabs and Jews) were also likewise described in negative light for centuries to justify action and exploitation there.
European geopolitics in the earlier half of the 20th century in the wider Middle East region contributed to a lot of instability overall and to a similar carve up that Africa had experienced just a few decades earlier, and is still coming to grips with. The British Empire, especially, played a major role in the region. During World War I, in 1916, it convinced Arab leaders to revolt against the Ottoman Empire (which was allied with Germany). In return, the British government would support the establishment of an independent Arab state in the region, including Palestine. Yet, in contradiction to this, in 1917, Lord Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Minister, issued a declaration (the Balfour Declaration). This announced the British Empire’s support for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine.
As a further complication, there was a deal between Imperial Britain and France to carve up the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire and divide control of the region. The spoils of war were to be shared. As in 1885 in the Berlin Conference where Africa was carved up amongst the various European empires, parts of the Middle East were to also be carved up, which would require artificial borders, support of monarchies, dictators and other leaders that could be regarded as puppets or at least could be influenced by these external powers.
But also as with Africa, the imposition of artificial borders, unpopular rulers etc would not be accepted without struggle and following World War II, the region became even more important for its energy sources.
In the Middle East, the Arab people had a common faith that bound them together. This meant that even more extreme measures for subjugation and control would be needed. One such result was the extremely heavy militarization of the region. Millions of dollars worth of weapons were poured in to support the puppet regimes. As described in the arms trade section of this web site, it is still the most heavily militarized region in the world, with the majority of military aid going to that region, from the powerful nations.
With harsh rulers and authoritarian regimes like the Monarchy of Saudi Arabia, or the Shah of Iran, counter-militancy and falling back on the most extremist interpretations of Islam resulted. Extreme militarization was resulting in extreme militancy and fanaticism.
As also detailed in the previous section, an Iranian revolution took hold in 1979 with the Ayatollah Khomeini and an extremist Islamic state being formed. In a documentary on PBS in 2000, (I do not recall exactly when, unfortunately), those women interviewed had initially supported the revolution because of the oppression of the Shah. They had believed that the revolution would lead them to a better future. However, in just a few years, they were to find that one form of extremism had been replaced by another, and women in general had not gained as they thought they would. (In recent months or years, it seems that the Iranian government is trying to become more moderate. Future developments, geopolitics and time will tell how that turns out.) Throughout the region, various human rights groups have documented the harsh conditions and lack of progress in development for many in those societies.
However, from this Islamic revolution (and other such struggles), combined with the feeling of hopelessness of other avenues, the perverted realization that Islamic extremism, anti-West sentiments etc may hold the answer, started to ferment.
In addition, as detailed further below, as part of the Cold War, the U.S. via Pakistan helped develop and train Islamic extremist mujahdeen fighters in an attempt to destabilize the Soviet Union. The religious call for mujahadeen fighters also attracted extremists from the Middle East (such as Osama Bin Laden and others).
The National Security Archives project at the George Washington University published declassified U.S. documents revealing the extent of U.S. propaganda efforts in the Middle East during the early years of the Cold War. While not as effective as would have been preferred, it gives an idea of the extent to which the U.S. was willing to go to gain support for geopolitical and ideological purposes.
Many in the region see the oppression from their leaders coming from the support by the West, America in particular. In some of the regimes friendly to the United States, some of the worst human rights abuses are described.
Turkey is one such example:
While one of the more democratic regimes, it has had a long conflict with neighbours, and segements of its own people, such as Kurd separatists.
As mentioned on this site, and pointed out by Amnesty International and others, there have been over 30,000 deaths in the last 14 years in the struggle and conflict against the Kurds.
Yet, the overwhelming number of these 30,000 deaths, not to mention widespread mutilation and rape, are the responsibility of the Turkish military, as the British newspaper, The Guardian, points out.
Turkey, as mentioned in this web site’s arms trade section, is one of the largest recipients of US military aid.
Saudi Arabia is another example, as all these reports by Amnesty International testify to.
In other cases, regimes that have previously been friendly to the United States have been supported for geopolitical reasons, regardless of how they treat and rule over their people. Only when they have gone too far (i.e. affected national interests) are they demonized or in some ways regarded as hostile (often appropriately so).
Iraq is an example of this:
As described by various links in this web site’s section on Iraq, when Sadam Hussain committed his murderous acts of gassing Kurds and others in his own land, and in the war against Iran, using chemical and biological weapons etc, it was during the time of U.S. support of Sadam to wage war against Iran and the new revolution.
The weapons and technology for biological and chemical weapons had come from the West.
In the geopolitical context, support for Iraq was due to the threat of loss of dominance and access to resources in the Middle East. As the Washington Post highlights:
The invasion of Kuwait and the resulting Gulf War allowed the U.S. to highlight these crimes but without mentioning how he had been able to get these means.
Furthermore, the Gulf War saw the death of an estimated 200,000 Iraqi’s, 100,000 of which were civilian.
And since the sanctions, the United Nations point out that 1,000,000 people have died and UNICEF points out that some half a million children have died, some 5000 per month, to which Madeline Albright has commented on public television that this price was worth it.
The U.S. and U.K. are largely the ones keeping the sanctions in place, despite objections from other nations and resignations of U.N. programme coordinators over this.
These sanctions have turned out to be a weapon of mass destruction!
Arab people throughout the Middle East are naturally infuriated to see their own people suffering (all while Sadam Hussein remains unaffected).
See the Iraq section on this site for more details and sources. (See also Gowan, sourced below.)
Afghanistan is another:
As is well known and accepted now, the CIA aided and funded terrorist regimes, such as the mujahadin and Osama Bin Laden, with the aid of Pakistan, to get the Soviets involved in Afghanistan and to ultimately help defeat them.
The vile and extremist Taliban were in power in Afghanistan, accused of terrible human rights violations (especially against women), oppressive extremist religious practices, and so on. (See for example, all the Amnesty International Afghanistan reports for more details.)
It is a large conduit for illegal drugs as well.
Some aspects have not escaped the mainstream media either. America’s NBC, for example, captures the result of all this quite well:
Roy describes a sickening twist of power politics in light of the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11:
Israel has always been a sensitive issue. For regional support, as mentioned earlier, the West has often sought support, in the forms of likeable dictators/monarchs etc. It has even supported and fueled wars against each other. Israel has been another country that has received enormous amounts of military aid.
The peace process, the Arabs have felt, has been grossly one sided, with the influential U.S. constantly backing the side of Israel as pointed out by Chomsky in the previous link.
Ordinary Arab citizens have additionally been extremely frustrated at their own leaders for not helping Palestinians.
Those states or organizations that have provided support, including for example, Lebanon, the Hizbollah, Syria, etc. have been branded unofficially or officially, terrorist or rogue states. (Sometimes, justifiably, and such crimes should not be belittled, either.)
An often-heard argument in the West is that Arabs have got themselves in this plight because of their constant bickering and disunity. This is partly true, but this almost blanket statement negates this larger history and complications of political maneuverings and support for various regimes (by the West as well). (See this web site’s section on the Palestine/Israel conflict for more links and sources on that issue.) Furthermore, a part of the disunity comes from the frustration and disagreement on how to handle what they see as unilateral U.S. interests in the region. Supporting Israel no matter what has further infuriated Arab citizens:
1948: Israel established. U.S. declines to press Israel to allow expelled Palestinians to return.
1949: CIA backs military coup deposing elected government of Syria.
1953: CIA helps overthrow the democratically-elected Mossadeq government in Iran (which had nationalized the British oil company) leading to a quarter-century of repressive and dictatorial rule by the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi.
1956: U.S. cuts off promised funding for Aswan Dam in Egypt after Egypt receives Eastern bloc arms.
1956: Israel, Britain, and France invade Egypt. U.S. does not support invasion, but the involvement of its NATO allies severely diminishes Washington’s reputation in the region.
1958: U.S. troops land in Lebanon to preserve stability.
early 1960s: U.S. unsuccessfully attempts assassination of Iraqi leader, Abdul Karim Qassim.
1963: U.S. reported to give Iraqi Ba’ath party (soon to be headed by Saddam Hussein) names of communists to murder, which they do with vigor.
1967-: U.S. blocks any effort in the Security Council to enforce SC Resolution 242, calling for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 war.
1970: Civil war between Jordan and PLO. Israel and U.S. prepare to intervene on side of Jordan if Syria backs PLO.
1972: U.S. blocks Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat’s efforts to reach a peace agreement with Israel.
1973: Airlifted U.S. military aid enables Israel to turn the tide in war with Syria and Egypt.
1973-75: U.S. supports Kurdish rebels in Iraq. When Iran reaches an agreement with Iraq in 1975 and seals the border, Iraq slaughters Kurds and U.S. denies them refuge. Kissinger secretly explains that covert action should not be confused with missionary work.
1975: U.S. vetoes Security Council resolution condemning Israeli attacks on Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
1978-79: Iranians begin demonstrations against the Shah. U.S. tells Shah it supports him without reservation and urges him to act forcefully. Until the last minute, U.S. tries to organize military coup to save the Shah, but to no avail.
1979-88: U.S. begins covert aid to Mujahideen in Afghanistan six months before Soviet invasion in Dec. 1979. Over the next decade U.S. provides training and more than $3 billion in arms and aid.
1980-88: Iran-Iraq war. When Iraq invades Iran, the U.S. opposes any Security Council action to condemn the invasion. U.S. soon removes Iraq from its list of nations supporting terrorism and allows U.S. arms to be transferred to Iraq. At the same time, U.S. lets Israel provide arms to Iran and in 1985 U.S. provides arms directly (though secretly) to Iran. U.S. provides intelligence information to Iraq. Iraq uses chemical weapons in 1984; U.S. restores diplomatic relations with Iraq. 1987 U.S. sends its navy into the Persian Gulf, taking Iraq’s side; an overly-aggressive U.S. ship shoots down an Iranian civilian airliner, killing 290.
1981, 1986: U.S. holds military maneuvers off the coast of Libya in waters claimed by Libya with the clear purpose of provoking Qaddafi. In 1981, a Libyan plane fires a missile and two Libyan planes shot down. In 1986, Libya fires missiles that land far from any target and U.S. attacks Libyan patrol boats, killing 72, and shore installations. When a bomb goes off in a Berlin nightclub, killing two Americans, the U.S. charges that Qaddafi was behind it (possibly true) and conducts major bombing raids in Libya, killing dozens of civilians, including Qaddafi’s adopted daughter.
1982: U.S. gives green light to Israeli invasion of Lebanon, killing some 17 thousand civilians. U.S. chooses not to invoke its laws prohibiting Israeli use of U.S. weapons except in self-defense. U.S. vetoes several Security Council resolutions condemning the invasion.
1983: U.S. troops sent to Lebanon as part of a multinational peacekeeping force; intervene on one side of a civil war, including bombardment by USS New Jersey. Withdraw after suicide bombing of marine barracks.
1984: U.S.-backed rebels in Afghanistan fire on civilian airliner.
1987-92: U.S. arms used by Israel to repress first Palestinian Intifada. U.S. vetoes five Security Council resolution condemning Israeli repression.
1988: Saddam Hussein kills many thousands of his own Kurdish population and uses chemical weapons against them. The U.S. increases its economic ties to Iraq.
1988: U.S. vetoes 3 Security Council resolutions condemning continuing Israeli occupation of and repression in Lebanon.
1990-91: U.S. rejects any diplomatic settlement of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (for example, rebuffing any attempt to link the two regional occupations, of Kuwait and of Palestine). U.S. leads international coalition in war against Iraq. Civilian infrastructure targeted. To promote stability U.S. refuses to aid post-war uprisings by Shi’ites in the south and Kurds in the north, denying the rebels access to captured Iraqi weapons and refusing to prohibit Iraqi helicopter flights.
1991-: Devastating economic sanctions are imposed on Iraq. U.S. and Britain block all attempts to lift them. Hundreds of thousands die. Though Security Council had stated that sanctions were to be lifted once Saddam Hussein’s programs to develop weapons of mass destruction were ended, Washington makes it known that the sanctions would remain as long as Saddam remains in power. Sanctions in fact strengthen Saddam’s position. Asked about the horrendous human consequences of the sanctions, Madeleine Albright (U.S. ambassador to the UN and later Secretary of State) declares that the price is worth it.
1993-: U.S. launches missile attack on Iraq, claiming self-defense against an alleged assassination attempt on former president Bush two months earlier.
1998: U.S. and U.K. bomb Iraq over the issue of weapons inspections, even though Security Council is just then meeting to discuss the matter.
1998: U.S. destroys factory producing half of Sudan’s pharmaceutical supply, claiming retaliation for attacks on U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and that factory was involved in chemical warfare. U.S. later acknowledges lack of evidence for the chemical warfare charge.
2000-: Israel uses U.S. arms in attempt to crush Palestinian uprising, killing hundreds of civilians.
(See also works from the above-mentioned William Blum for a similar list as well. As an example, see his book, Rogue State, (Common Courage Press, 2000).)
This is not a complete set of examples, but not atypical of the region either. As also mentioned in the previous section, numerous areas in the region were carved into different territories with monarchs put there. Not all were necessarily oppressive in physical ways. Some restricted cultural, political, and/or economic freedoms. The net result was they did not (and do not) necessarily represent (or perhaps even respect) the actual people of the region entirely.
Furthermore, with the large commissions that accompany arms sales, and the heavy militarization, many accuse their leaders of being easily corruptible. There has also been frustration that the Arab leaders are divided, interested in their own power games within their region and hence unable to unite or present one voice on many issues, including Palestine/Israel.
In that respect, after decades of this, some have felt limited options of where to turn; religion has failed them, their leaders have failed them, those that tried are either seen as bought out, or isolated or in some way not delivering. Fanatics and militants see easy recruitment for their causes, as a result. Hatred is easy to teach. Extremist views are easier to preach (especially with the success of Afghanistan and the Taliban regime in fighting off the Soviets, another feared power).
With the Cold War over and the West victorious, globalization in its current form was able to spread further. Conflicts also broke out between nations that were within the sphere of Soviet influence, especially in Central Asia, where many were Islamic. Extremist regimes and organizations were involved in participating in those conflicts for separation.
In addition, with globalization, came the increasing spread of western culture to the global South. In the Middle East as well, western products and more importantly, culture, was coming in more so. While around the world, not just the Middle East there has been increasing concern at what is described as cultural imperialism, because of the extremes in the Middle East, for the extremists and fanatics, this has added to the concerns and anti-West feelings that have spilled into violent actions and hatred.
Hardly touched upon on this page has been the economic policies that have accompanied these geopolitical policies. Harsh Structural Adjustment imposition on the Third World for example, as described on this site (see previous link), has deepened poverty for most in the world. Walden Bello, professor of sociology and public administration at the University of the Philippines, and co-director of Thailand-based research organization, Focus on the Global South, describes the harsh geopolitical ramifications well:
The political economy of globalization therefore has been accompanied by all nations vying to best represent their interests. Of course, the more powerful and stronger nations are better able to represent their interests, which can also have the effect of undermining others. The United States being the most successful and powerful nation on the international political scene therefore weilds incredible power and influence, as Professor Wade of the prestigious London School of Economics, for example, vividly highlights:
Because we live in such times, it is hard to see or accept that today’s global political system, from the perspective of many in the third world, is a continuation of the system of previous decades and centuries, but of course evolved with its own nuances and complexities. Oftentimes, then, military solutions and other aggressive courses of actions are supported without understanding or considering the deeper and long term causes of various situations. S. Brian Willson, a U.S. Vietnam War veteran, now a peace activist highlights an aspect of this quite well:
Such factors in the Middle East on top of the heavy militarism and political oppression have also contributed to extremism.
Political leaders are in between a rock and a hard place; the struggle for people’s support
Political leaders throughout various regions, be it the Middle East, or Western countries, are in a tough situation, on many fronts. The following is perhaps an oversimplified number of fronts but gives a hint of the challenges:
The people front
Democracy or no democracy, people can and will only take so much. At some point, they will rise up and ask for their demands to be met. This can be via democratic processes, or through various movements, violent or peaceful.
The extremist front
There are always extremists on all sides, everywhere. They are able to exert some influence, to varying degrees and try to garnish popular support if possible. This can be very destabilizing depending on many circumstances and conditions.
The corporate/geopolitical front
There are various interests pulling at leaders to either do or not do something, in relation to some event. This might be to go to war, to enforce economic sanctions, some other form of diplomacy, or deal with such things coming at one’s country from others. These interests are often not always the interests of the majority of people.
With various fronts also influencing the mainstream media of that nation/region, then other actors or some of these above actors can have more say, directly or indirectly. One such example is the arms industry, as mentioned in this web site’s section on that issue. (See this web site’s section on the mainstream media for more examples.) Such influences can affect popular opinions and create support or lack of support on various issues. Gaining popular support or convincing the population has been of major importance. For dictators etc, such propaganda also serves to try to minimize the risk of an uprising. For democracies, where the media’s democratic institutions are weak or subject to influences, propaganda can create support.
Hence, in the West, our perceptions of the Middle East are subject to these influences in the mainstream media and elsewhere, just as we point out how the perceptions of the West in the Middle East are subject to influences of extremism.
As a result of these decisions, lives of ordinary citizens, be it the West, Middle East, or elsewhere can be affected.
Stephen Zunes, associate professor of Politics and chair of the Peace & Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, as well as a senior policy analyst and Middle East editor for the Foreign Policy in Focus Project is worth quoting here, in light of the September 11, 2001 atrocity and resulting actions:
Brigadier General Jan Karpinski Set Up Over Abu Ghraib Prison
The radio interview below is an interview with Janis Karpinksi the former commander of Abu Ghraib detention facility near Baghdad, Iraq. The interview is with Freedom Radio.
There is a wise saying:
“It is for those who know to tell the blind horseman on the blind horse that he is heading for the abyss” (Lao Tzu)
“It is the truth that sets you free” (transparency, openness, honesty)
A quote from General Janis Karpinski:
“We were all taken in government took advantage of us in our reeling response to 911, at weakest moment we know who did this, we need to go get them. We all bought in to it, because we were afraid, kept reminding us that we needed to be afraid, be very afraid that was the justification to march forward with this ridiculous plan they reminded to be afraid”
Americans and others around the world when vigilant about what is done in their name, can ensure a free and open society. Secrecy and silence is the sign of repression and dictatorship. Ignorance may be convenient and soothing to ignore truths bravely revealed but eventually it comes home to roost. That is when people say its “not fair”.
Strangely I found this interview by chance as I looked at a documentary on Netflicks that showed a place called Abu Ghraib in Egypt. It was about pyramids. My curiosity about what this name meant lead me to Janis Karpinski, a female commanding officer who ran 17 detention centres in Iraq and was targeted as responsible (without trial) for Abu Ghraib torture and rendition. The interview reveals, she was indeed set up by those at the top. She was kept in the dark about the interrogations and kept busy as the real architects former US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, General Sanchez and others gave the green light to torture with the “gloves off”. They had outcomes they wanted to see. She reveals how power works and operates secretly and the insanity of sweeping for thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens, some of whom had violated curfew, others petty criminals to find themselves imprisoned and tortured for information they didn’t know. The objective in Iraq was to find Saddam Hussein, this was an agenda of those at the top and as Scott Ritter indicated was not about weapons of mass destruction (cover story). Andrew Wilkie here in Australia was a whistle-blower in respect of the Australian Government following the US highlighting an ‘illegal war of aggression’. He was an Intelligence Officer with the Officer of National Assessment on the Iraqi desk and he indicated there was low threat to Australians. In truth there was no threat to Australians or Americans. The Australian Government was supportive of this war. This is very concerning. It appears unconditional support. I would ask why?
Brigadeir General Karpinksi said the majority of those incarcerated were ordinary Iraqi citizens, some well educated, swept up, inclusive of whole families, detained in these facilities without any idea of the charges or when they would be released. It had been made clear to her that because they were not “prisoners of war” they did not receive the rights and just treatment provided under the Geneva Conventions. She was told bluntly they had “no rights”. Note this is a departure from a democratic philosophy towards dictatorship.
Warning bells should go off at this point as this is illegal as they are detained without trial. I contemplated the refugees “detained” here in Australia as I listened to her. I contemplated protestors detained for 14 days without trial under the ASIO Act, I interviewed Scott Parkin a US citizen held for protesting and teaching nonviolent techniques to effectively protest Halliburton (key contractor in Iraq) in Sydney. I contemplated the cowardice (as she put it) of those in command who manipulated events to portray her as the one responsible for torture at Abu Ghraib. This is deception at the highest levels.
She also dropped a bomb shell so to speak when she stated the photos were deliberately done (as was the war). The interrogators apparently received the techniques from Guantanamo Bay.
It seems very clear from listening that the need “to win the war” is what drove these decisions from the top. A rationale of the ends justifies the means. When means is what creates the ends in truth. Following the rules of war, the military and Geneva Conventions. It is clear that civilians were treated like potential criminals and mixed in with those who were combatants. Ironically, combatants have protections under the Geneva Conventions but not the civilians do not, this is very disturbing, this means they can do anything to them. She reflected on the rights of US citizens, the right to go before a court, which the Iraqi’s requested (lawyers) and were denied as there were not enough lawyers they said (I doubt that is true). Human Rights Lawyers came to Guantanamo to determine test cases as here is a democracy violating its own principles and laws in another country, as it is not held to account. That is revealing as the mask of decency is off. So a key principle of a democratic system is to go before a judge was denied, to be provided with an attorney (equality before the law) and the right to a fair hearing (without bias). She stated the Iraqi judiciary, despite Saddam Hussein’s abuses, were extremely fair better than US courts.
She had extensive experience in the Middle East and often talked to local people to find out what they thought. She had respect for the Iraqi people and contrasted them with the US people. She said they were well educated. She said if Americans stood in the shoes of Iraqi’s how they might feel in the army came and shot their neighbours and they knew were next. What if your whole family is taken away. This is a General making this statement. Apparently the women and mothers would wait outside the prison in hope their fathers, brothers and uncles would be released. They went after men around 28 with beards (all men had beards). She was astounded at how easily American’s believe their leaders.
She also spoke of wanting to make a positive difference, she had trained women in the United Arab Emirites in the military. I am sure she would have offended those in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries given their attitudes to women. Clearly in the US she was pioneering women in the military and sought to be taken seriously by demanding leadership roles. That discrimination in my view is still very evident.
The fact she was blamed and selected given she is a woman, is not surprising to me, as this incensed the population more given how women are perceived. Her demonisation was a skilfull intelligence deflection from those responsible, whom she called cowards, and the truth of who actually ordered the interrogations. She was deceived and then made a scapegoat, this is a great travesty of justice and it happens when good people do nothing. I totally understand the humiliation of being targeted with allegations that are untrue. The stress of not being able to defend yourself or access justice but put in a position where she must defend herself and the many who won’t believe her. She didn’t even have a hearing nor did anyone speak to her face. She experienced no response, secrecy and orchestrated behind her back. She was encouraged to return to the US from Iraq assured her career was fine. It was not. She was vilified and this is a form of victimisation (bullying) that is noteworthy.
She makes a very powerful quote at the end of this radio program (see below). It is recommended listening given the times we are moving through, the changes to legislation restricting rights (here in Australia), the blind eye to human rights violations and the notion of democracy as just a word not a way of life. It is evident democracy is no longer real when leaders do not live the values their country states it believes in. It is clear in the case of Americans it is no longer life, liberty and happiness that is valued. Until citizens claim their democratic right to speak up, ask questions and actually investigate what is being done in their name, this will only worsen as people are not held to account. This appears the only way they learn or dissuades others from totalitarian objectives that ignore the rights of others. This is the era of human rights in my view.
Fear is a tactic used in the war on terror. It is noteworthy to reflect on demonisation in all its forms. However, the truth is coming out and this is a good thing. It is up to people to make up their own minds, as Janis advises.
All soldiers (no matter the country) need to reflect deeply on those at the top and if they are being placed in harms way, to ask is this in defence of freedoms or to protect the wealth of a few without any regard for the safety or rights of civilians (innocent people). Something to deeply ponder.
As a briefing prior to the audio click the link to an interview with George Negus, who is a highly respected journalist and foreign correspondent in Australia who has interviewed Brigadeir General Janis Karpinski, this will make her side clearer and provides a written transcript identifying names. Refer https://www.sbs.com.au/news/janis-karpinski-interview
We must teach children peace education, universal values, anti-discrimination training and questioning (critical thinking) in order to prevent future abuses or deception. Moreover, we need to train them in conflict resolution so they learn how to resolve conflict and not model on war games. I wish for the wars to be over as they do not work. They are utilised as is becoming clearer by vested interests who are in it for profit not peace. I note that the US and Israel pulled out of United Nations Education, Scientific Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) this was promoting peace education around the world. It is noteworthy that they are not interested in peace. Refer https://www.sbs.com.au/news/us-pulls-out-of-unesco-over-anti-israel-bias The israeli lobby comes to mind. The issue of one vote one value in a democracy comes to mind and the fact that no particular group should have disproportionate influence over government.
Conflict resolution should be mandatory for every soldier so they can be utilised as peace keepers to keep warring parties apart, to communicate effectively (raised in Janis audio) and help with environmental or climate disasters, ensure human rights and work as honorable peace keeping units to serve society and global peace. That is their foremost function not to serve corruption in any form. So they do not need to lose jobs but be deployed in service to humanity. They won’t be hated in this type of deployment. The New Earth Army was one example by Colonel Jim Channon. Violence cannot at any point teach peace, although it does strengthen the desire for peace. In that I see its purpose.
As for illegality and projection of power in the service of cruelty and business interests (contractors), it is imperative that kangaroo courts are not set up to make it appear that justice is done without evidence or a fair hearing. This is why the Justice system is important and the ethics and training of Judges must be impeccable. They must be incorruptible, neutral and imbued with fairness as this is what ensures real security, rights and freedoms which are the basis of a civil society. There have been calls for war crimes tribunals for George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld former CEO of Halliburton (Oil industry). The fact that the US military is aligned with the Energy Industry immediately leads to the conclusion as the reason for US warfare, this must be investigated as millions of people are being killed. Refer https://www.alternet.org/story/44213/the_war_crimes_case_against_donald_rumsfeld Amercian’s speak of being patriotic to their country, however it is the duty of citizens to say no to abuses in their names. There is an unquestioned allegiance to the military which has been a deliberate strategy to ensure no critiques, this is how power and control works. Moreover, countries like Australia have a duty as good friends to speak the truth to power if they know they are engaged in criminality. It matters not if it is civilians in other countries or in the home country. Leaders values influence their citizens.
The audio interview with General Janis Karpinsky is as follows:
Martin Luther King said “sometimes silence is the greatest betrayal of all’, or as General David Morrison put it “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept”.
A man after my own heart… there are many great men in the military. I respect truth, honour and justice. If you know of a crime stand for truth. End of story, literally.
Note: the process David took is a process many take as they are not answered, ignored and accountability absent. Then attempts are made to intimidate the press rather than the hard work of looking within. Denial is not a river in Egypt.
The issue of disrespect is mentioned in the article, I note this attitude is across the board as values are not modelled as ‘who we are’ as a culture. Democracy in my view is not just a word, it is who we are yet there are some in high places that consider accountability, transparency and freedom of speech an impediment rather than a value that drives to the heart of why we do what we do.
‘My duty was to stand and be counted’: Why I leaked to the ABC
Fifty-nine years ago today, my father, Dr William McBride, “discovered” that the drug thalidomide was causing birth defects. A relatively junior gynaecologist in his thirties with a young family, the long weekend gave him an opportunity to do the necessary thinking and draw the fateful conclusions.
Much as I would have liked it, my life has none of the fame and fortune of my father. He started at the bottom and reached the top, and I started at the top and may yet reach the very bottom. Yet despite outward appearances, I’m happy with where I’ve been, and where I’m going. My passion for using my brain to defend democracy and our hard won democratic freedoms is undiminished.
Having been sent to boarding school at a young age, I grew up on stories of WWII. My imagination was constantly filled with the deeds of those who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms we now take for granted. Subsequently, all I ever wanted to be was a soldier.
Even now I don’t consider myself an ex-soldier. My uniforms hang pristine waiting for the day they might be used again. But the essence of being an officer is not in the uniforms, or the medals. It’s in the funerals. The moment when you face a young man or woman who will face the rest of their life without their loved one. People accept death. It’s part of the job. What they can’t accept is waste. The question they want answered is consistent and valid: “Can you reassure me my beloved did not die for nothing.”
I take this responsibility seriously. It matters. A society that takes the lives of its most dedicated and idealistic youth recklessly or cynically is a society doomed to fail.
My time in the British Army taught me what leadership is, and what it isn’t. Its not about looking tougher than your soldiers, or giving them orders. They largely know what to do before you tell them, having spent their whole lives “in uniform”. There is one thing they rely on you to do: stand up and be counted when it matters. One job. But it’s a job that needs to be done, and only you can do.
I did two tours of Afghanistan for Australia. Each was hard in its own way, but equally they were also the best things I have done in my life. As an officer your responsibility remains the same, whether you are protecting soldiers from the Taliban or their own political masters. In 2013 my career reached a crisis point. It was my second deployment, this time as legal officer with the Special Forces, those who sacrifice most for our country. The point came where there was no doubt in my mind that a line had been crossed, and lives were being cynically wasted. My duty was to “stand and be counted” and I did. Whatever happens from now on is in many ways irrelevant. I did what I believe had to be done. My main enemy was not the chain of command, or even the police, rather myself.
The process of standing up took many years, and many forms. It started with a politely worded internal complaint. When that failed, I went first to the police, and then the minister. Finally I went to the press. Which brings us to my trial. The details probably matters less than the principle, namely, that I believed the Australian Defence Force had failed. Failed in its duty to its soldiers, failed in its duty to Australia. It’s a claim I stand by to this day.
Whatever glossy ads we make, the life of those who defend our shores is a hard one. It is performed by hard people, and it needs to be. Death will always be part of the job. They accept that. What they can never accept is that those who they entrusted with their lives and the futures of their families, did not do “everything possible” to keep them alive or bring them home. Everything.
Soldiers need to die but the way we treat them says everything about who we are as a nation. A nation that treats its soldiers with disrespect is a nation in decline, but one that deserves to decline. I have no regrets about what I did, and I am ready to face the consequences as the justice system sees fit.
I am lucky in this regard in that Australia has possibly the most enviable legal “pedigree” in the world. Born of the ancient tradition of parliamentary democracy and “rule of law” whose beautiful, but painful evolution can be traced back through 800 years of the Magna Carta.
The rights and freedoms we enjoy are the product of idealism combined with suffering. In addition to the Anglo-Saxon tradition, we have undoubtedly inherited the almost timeless, wondrous spirit of the Indigenous people of this continent. While we are protected by these laws they also come with responsibilities. To the earth, and to each other. To ourselves.
A judge will decide my fate, and as a “true believer” in the rule of law, I willingly submit myself to that fate. How could I not, as it is the very same rule of law from which I claim my unenviable but inevitable duty. Whatever they decide, I believe that I did my duty.
I recall the days of the Greenies and how the green movement was dismissed as pseudo science. Anything that undermined the economic mantra is demonised in subtle and overt ways. This is because the perception of security rests with economics not nature. When I read articles such as this my mind goes immediately to the questions:
Do they see the link between climate change and greed?
Do militaries understand they are utilised to defend property not rights?
Is national interest global interest or are we competing separately for self interest first (greed)?
Still the climate sceptics industry is fuelling the argument and doubt that what is happening is not human induced and therefore they do not have to take responsibility and radically change for the sake of current and future generations. The real challenge for those in authority and those who are the powers behind the facades, is can they step aside from self interest and put the planet and future generations ahead of their own interests? Can the militaries look inwardly and see the connection between lack of inner peace (harmony) and outer discord? Can they make the link between inner climate and outer climate given we are the creators of our reality. I use these words consciously as we are 100% responsible for the world of our own making. I see this is the greatest security challenge to the current paradigm. The real insecurity is economic and its infinite drive to produce more materialism as profits is what is behind the changing climate. Can we define the real problem? Can we face the pink elephant in the room?
Investing in peace education enables people to make peace with where they are so they can handle change in a positive way. The reality is the climate has changed and it will create discord and upheaval (refugee flows) and the challenge is how we deal with these problems that will make a difference. If we fall into fear and insecurity we will panic and conflict will arise as many compete for limited resources. If we can learn to work together, to nullify fear (conflict transformation) and work on harmony within and outside of ourselves then renewable solutions will arise to mitigate our fears. I see this as the real climate change. The risk management that transforms risk into solutions. Another way of seeing this is transforming fear into love (unity), this is the real alchemy that has been spoken about for centuries. Some may call it the holy grail.
I wonder what an environmental analysis on the industrial military complex would yield? What of the munitions in war? What of the environmental damage through depleted uranium and toxic waste? What of destroyed environment and infrastructures in warfare that render communities destitute? What of the bombing of infrastructure? hospitals? civilians? What of the violence? Can the military look at this reality without a story of defence and freedom and redefine its role and meaning in the world? Is defence security or the mindset of endless war? What does the war against anything create? What if finally the military made peace realising fear is the enemy not people? What if fear is really false evidence appearing real. Then there is no threat only possibilities. I wonder…
The article below will frame it differently in the current paradigm. One positive note is the military reducing its own emissions which are considerable.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis has asserted that climate change is real, and a threat to American interests abroad and the Pentagon’s assets everywhere, a position that appears at odds with the views of the president who appointed him and many in the administration in which he serves.
In unpublished written testimony provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee after his confirmation hearing in January, Mattis said it was incumbent on the U.S. military to consider how changes like open-water routes in the thawing Arctic and drought in global trouble spots can pose challenges for troops and defense planners. He also stressed this is a real-time issue, not some distant what-if.
“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” Mattis said in written answers to questions posed after the public hearing by Democratic members of the committee. “It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.”
Mattis has long espoused the position that the armed forces, for a host of reasons, need to cut dependence on fossil fuels and explore renewable energy where it makes sense. He had also, as commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command in 2010, signed off on the Joint Operating Environment, which lists climate change as one of the security threats the military expected to confront over the next 25 years.
But Mattis’ written statements to the Senate committee are the first direct signal of his determination to recognize climate change as a member of the Trump administration charged with leading the country’s armed forces.
These remarks and others in the replies to senators could be a fresh indication of divisions or uncertainty within President Donald Trump’s administration over how to balance the president’s desire to keep campaign pledges to kill Obama-era climate policies with the need to engage constructively with allies for whom climate has become a vital security issue.
[C]limate change is a challenge that requires a broader, whole-of government response. If confirmed, I will ensure that the Department of Defense plays its appropriate role within such a response by addressing national security aspects.
Mattis’ statements on climate change, for instance, recognize the same body of science that Scott Pruitt, the new Environmental Protection Agency administrator, seems dead-set on rejecting. In a CNBC interview last Thursday, Pruitt rejected established science pointing to carbon dioxide as the main driver of recent global warming.
Mattis’ position also would appear to clash with some Trump administration budget plans, which, according to documents leaked recently to The Washington Post, include big cuts for the Commerce Department’s oceanic and atmospheric research — much of it focused on tracking and understanding climate change.
Even setting aside warming driven by accumulating carbon dioxide, it’s clear to a host of experts, including Dr. Will Happer, a Princeton physicist interviewed by Trump in January as a potential science adviser, that better monitoring and analysis of extreme conditions like drought is vital.
Mattis’ statements could hearten world leaders who have urged the Trump administration to remain engaged on addressing global warming. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet Trump on Friday.
Security questions related to rising seas and changing weather patterns in global trouble spots like the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa are one reason that global warming has become a focus in international diplomatic forums. On March 10, the United Nations Security Council was warned of imminent risk of famine in Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan.
As well, at a Munich meeting on international security issues last month, attended by Mattis and Vice President Mike Pence, European officials pushed back on demands that they spend more on defense, saying their investments in boosting resilience to climate hazards in poor regions of the world are as valuable to maintaining security as strong military forces.
“[Y]ou need the European Union, because when you invest in development, when you invest in the fight against climate change, you also invest in our own security,” Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said in a panel discussion.
Concerns about the implications of global warming for national security have built within the Pentagon and national security circles for decades, including under both Bush administrations.
In September, acting on the basis of a National Intelligence Council report he commissioned, President Obama ordered more than a dozen federal agencies and offices, including the Defense Department, “to ensure that climate change-related impacts are fully considered in the development of national security doctrine, policies, and plans.”
A related “action plan” was issued on Dec. 23, requiring those agencies to create a Climate and National Security Working Group within 60 days, and for relevant agencies to create “implementation plans” in that same period.
There’s no sign that any of this has been done.
Whether the inaction is a function of the widespread gaps in political appointments at relevant agencies, institutional inertia or a policy directive from the Trump White House remains unclear.
Queries to press offices at the White House and half a dozen of the involved agencies — including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Energy and Commerce Department — have not been answered. A State Department spokeswoman directed questions to the National Security Council and the White House, writing:
“We refer you to the NSC for any additional information on the climate working group.”
Mattis’ statements were submitted through a common practice at confirmation hearings in which senators pose “questions for the record” seeking more detail on a nominee’s stance on some issue.
The questions and answers spanned an array of issues, but five Democratic senators on the committee asked about climate change, according to a government official briefed in detail on the resulting 58-page document with the answers. The senators were Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the ranking member, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Excerpts from Mattis’ written comments to the committee were in material provided to ProPublica by someone involved with coordinating efforts on climate change preparedness across more than a dozen government agencies, including the Defense Department. Senate staff confirmed their authenticity.
Dustin Walker, communications director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, said responses to individual senators’ follow-up questions are theirs to publish or not.
Here are two of the climate questions from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, with Mattis’ replies:
Shaheen: “I understand that while you were commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command you signed off on a document called the Joint Operating Environment, which listed climate change as one of the security threats the military will face in the next quarter-century. Do you believe climate change is a security threat?”
Mattis: “Climate change can be a driver of instability and the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon.”
Shaheen: “General Mattis, how should the military prepare to address this threat?”
Mattis: “As I noted above, climate change is a challenge that requires a broader, whole-of government response. If confirmed, I will ensure that the Department of Defense plays its appropriate role within such a response by addressing national security aspects.”
In a reply to another question, Mattis said:
“I agree that the effects of a changing climate — such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation. I will ensure that the department continues to be prepared to conduct operations today and in the future, and that we are prepared to address the effects of a changing climate on our threat assessments, resources, and readiness.