Thursday, February 24, 2011

Samizdat - American style

Ray McGovern was long at the top of the intelligence apparatus, giving the Presidential daily briefing for the CIA for 27 years. Now a follower of the Berrigans – see here and here - he went to a speech of Hilary Clinton at George Washington University. He stood and applauded politely when Hilary came in to speak (he had intended to ask her a question at the end) but the Russian phrase for “stormy applause” in authoritarian documents came to his mind; he thought better of it; and stood there – his back turned to Hilary. The latter, the one time young law student who supported the Panthers on trial in New Haven, the former Wellesley valedictorian who had said beautifully that we were a more intense generation, seeking a new world, against the Vietnam War and racism, now has become lost. As Gail Collins wrote amusingly during the 2008 primaries, the young Hilary would have voted for Obama – for instance, the Obama who at last supported democracy in Egypt against Hilary who had called for Mubarak to remain in power. Not even sure Kafka who Ray McGovern invokes could shoot quite low enough to satirize Hillary.

For the police came and roughed up Ray McGovern. Silently turning your back – even as a former CIA leader – is apparently a crime in these United States. McGovern was beaten, and was shown, bruised in pictures circulated on Common Dreams just after this happened. But he explains here, long far on the inside, how attempts to tell Hilary Clinton the truth about Iraq were rebuffed. My dean Chris Hill, has also told me stories of Hilary fighting with him (when he was ambassador to Iraq) to get Blackwater operatives recommended by General Petraeus to replace competent and experienced State Department people. He refused. Hilary is always angling for position – a once and future Presidential aspirant - as a hawk, obsequious to Petraeus even as the policies pursued are a long road to continuing defeat and with no prospect or imagining even of what “military victory” might look like. Beating the drums for the war complex, torturing some in American custody – the UN is investigating the Obama administration for their isolation and torture of Bradley Manning, so far not charged by the United States’ government with any crime – today the long arm of the US is visible in corrupting a “court” in England to extradite Julian Assange back to Sweden. This "court" treats Assange more harshly than the one actual child molester arrested under this international agreement (these are the only two cases brought in Britain so far; the latter was easily freed on bail). Revealing the truth as Wikileaks did about Amerian diplomacy, its subservience to militarism and war crimes – is something that a US government, even led by Obama, must hunt down, stamp out, beat into the ground…And so, Mcgovern was grabbed and roughed up while Hilary, watching the scene, uttered phrases about opposing authoritarian police states like Iran.

Fortunately, our oligarchic police state is still a little less final that that. The piece below by McGovern was published on Common Dreams. He refers to FCM – the Fawning Corporate Media in his idiom (a rare, unartful bit of quasi-radicalism). But they are. The corporate media are part of the war complex as I have underlined here. When has there been an article of this insight, however, revealing just who America’s political elite is (I think he is slightly harsh on Obama, but, after all, Hilary is Obama’s Secretary of State…) in the Times?

The Times rightly celebrates today Obama’s action, on his own initiative, to undo bigotry toward gays and lesbians. The administration no longer defends the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. That is a great thing. The Times includes a very good piece by Nicholas Kristof on Libya (his work has been very striking lately) and often publishes excellent pieces by Paul Krugman and David Leonhardt on the economy. MSNBC also covered the phone call between a blogger pretending to be David Koch and Koch’s yo-yo, the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker. The Times will probably have something about it – since what Walker says is criminal and there is an independent board of judges in Wisconsin to look into political malfeasance - though not perhaps with deep insight. That said, nothing of this intelligence could appear in the Times or the mainstream press. Why did Ray McGovern stand, his back to Hilary, to be beaten by American police and hauled off to jail? Here is an answer.

American militarism is self-destructive and its arming of tyrants, as in Egypt, will no longer do. Right now, in an undeclared aggression against Pakistan, Obama is firing drones from Creech Air Force base in Nevada and killing many innocents for every Pakistani Taliban – 5 to 1 by neocon think tank “statistics, 10 to 1" according to John Mearsheimer - and unleashing special ops to maraud across the country, killing people, is approaching a breaking point. Obama’s false defense of the CIA/former Blackwater operative Raymond Davis – “just a diplomat” – who murdered two Pakistani civilians, shooting one five times to bring him down dead at a distance of 30 yards, shooting the other twice in the head, is horrifying. Of course, unlike those who send the deadly drones from Creech Air Force base half way around the world, Pakistani police could arrest this murderer….Yet the kept corporate press, at the behest of the administration, lied about it to the Ameican people. The Guardian, an actual newspaper, in Britain broke the story...Further, what I call the reactionary two-step of party competition, always pulling the Democrats when they are in power to the Right, means a competition to laud more war, promoting more slaughters (often of innocents) and deaths of American soldiers, prolonging occupation indefinitely, making ordinary Americans more insecure in the name of "security."

In addition, militarism is not affordable. In American mainstream politics, only Ron Paul is right (crazy as he is on the economy). Militarism does lead to a police state, as the Jay, Hamilton and Madison also emphasized (see my Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy?). Perhaps Dennis Kucinich, John Lewis and Barbara Lee also see some of this.

Fortunately, there are democratic patriots in the political/civil servant elite – not the people of the tin flags on their lapel, but Ray McGovern for example, who stand up against this. McGovern, like Scott Ritter and the CIA generally, tends to blame Israel’s interests for the crazy aggression in Iraq (he does note, however that the interests of ordinary Israelis were harmed by the aggression). In the second piece below, John Pilger, the great independent British journalist and maker of documentaries (see “Paying the Price” a BBC film on the Iraq boycott not shown in the US) is much closer to the truth about this matter. Pilger's piece is based on correspondance with McGovern. Democracy from below in America, suddenly surging through the Midwest (I, too, attended a demonstration of over a thousand people at the State Capitol in Colorado Tuesday) may have something soon to say in favor of McGovern’s anti-militarism, too.

One might dwell on the difference between McGovern’s words and Clinton’s. Who tells the truth, spreads the word, about American foreign policy?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 by
The Push of Conscience & Secretary Clinton
by Ray McGovern

It was not until Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walked to the George Washington University podium last week to enthusiastic applause that I decided I had to dissociate myself from the obsequious adulation of a person responsible for so much death, suffering and destruction.

I was reminded of a spring day in Atlanta almost five years earlier when then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld strutted onto a similar stage to loud acclaim from another enraptured audience.
Introducing Rumsfeld on May 4, 2006, the president of the Southern Center for International Policy in Atlanta highlighted his “honesty.” I had just reviewed my notes for an address I was scheduled to give that evening in Atlanta and, alas, the notes demonstrated his dishonesty.

I thought to myself, if there’s an opportunity for Q & A after his speech I might try to stand and ask a question, which is what happened. I engaged in a four-minute impromptu debate with Rumsfeld on Iraq War lies, an exchange that was carried on live TV.

That experience leaped to mind on Feb. 15, as Secretary Clinton strode onstage amid similar adulation.

The fulsome praise for Clinton from GWU’s president and the loud, sustained applause also brought to mind a phrase that – as a former Soviet analyst at CIA – I often read in Pravda. When reprinting the text of speeches by high Soviet officials, the Communist Party newspaper would regularly insert, in italicized parentheses: “Burniye applaudismenti; vce stoyat” — Stormy applause; all rise.

With the others at Clinton’s talk, I stood. I even clapped politely. But as the applause dragged on, I began to feel like a real phony. So, when the others finally sat down, I remained standing silently, motionless, with my eyes fixed narrowly on the rear of the auditorium and my back to the Secretary.
I did not expect what followed: a violent assault in full view of Secretary Clinton by what in Soviet parlance were called the “organs of state security.” The rest is history, as they say. A short account of the incident can be found here.

Callous Aplomb

As the video of the event shows, Secretary Clinton did not miss a beat in her speech as she called for authoritarian governments to show respect for dissent and to refrain from violence. She spoke with what seemed to be an especially chilly sang froid, as she ignored my silent witness and the violent assault that took place right in front of her.

The experience gave me personal confirmation of the impression that I had reluctantly drawn from watching her behavior and its consequences over the past decade. The incident was a kind of metaphor of the much worse violence that Secretary Clinton has coolly countenanced against others.

Again and again, Hillary Clinton – both as a U.S. senator and as Secretary of State – has demonstrated a nonchalant readiness to unleash the vast destructiveness of American military power. The charitable explanation, I suppose, is that she knows nothing of war from direct personal experience.

And that is also true of her husband, her colleague Robert Gates at the Defense Department, President Barack Obama, and most of the White House functionaries blithely making decisions to squander the lives and limbs of young soldiers in foreign adventures — conflicts that even the top brass admit cannot be won with weapons.

The analogy to Vietnam is inescapable. As White House tapes from the 1960s show, President Lyndon Johnson knew that the Vietnam War could not be “won” in any meaningful way. Nonetheless, he kept throwing hundreds of thousands into the battle lest someone accuse him of being soft on communism.

I had an inside seat watching Johnson do that. And I did nothing.

Now, with an even more jittery president, a hawkish Secretary of State, General David they-injure-their-own-children-to-make-us-look-bad Petraeus, and various Republican presidential hopefuls – all jockeying for political position as the 2012 election draws near – the country is in even deeper trouble today.

No one on this political merry-go-round can afford to appear weak on terrorism. So, they all have covered their bets. And we all know who pays the price for these political calculations.
This time, I would NOT do nothing.

My colleagues in Veterans for Peace and I have known far too many comrades-in-arms and families whose lives have been shattered or ended as a result of such crass political maneuvering. Many of us know far more than we wish to know about war and killing. But — try as we may with letters and other appeals — we cannot get through to President Obama. And Secretary Clinton turns her own deaf ear to our entreaties and those of others who oppose unnecessary warfare. It is a pattern that she also followed in her days as a U.S. senator from New York.

See No Evil

In the summer of 2002, as the Senate was preparing to conduct hearings about alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq and the possibility of war, former Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq and U.S. Marine Major, Scott Ritter, came down to Washington from his home in upstate New York to share his first-hand knowledge with as many senators as possible.

To those that let him in the door, he showed that the “intelligence” adduced to support U.S. claims that Iraq still had WMD was fatally flawed. This was the same “intelligence” that Senate Intelligence Committee chair Jay Rockefeller later branded “unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

Sen. Hillary Clinton would not let Ritter in her door. Despite his unique insights as a U.N. inspector and his status as a constituent, Sen. Clinton gave him the royal run-around. Her message was clear: “Don’t bother me with the facts.” She had already made up her mind. I had a direct line into her inner circle at the time, and was assured that several of my op-eds and other commentaries skeptical of George W. Bush’s planned invasion were given personally to Clinton, but no matter.
Sen. Clinton reportedly was not among the handful of legislators who took the trouble to read the National Intelligence Estimate on WMD in Iraq that was issued on Oct. 1, 2002, just ten days before the she voted to authorize war.

In short, she chose not to perform the due diligence required prior to making a decision having life-or-death consequences for thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. She knew whom she needed to cater to, and what she felt she had to do.

But, bright as she is, Hillary Clinton is prone to willful mistakes — political, as well as strategic. In dissing those of us who were trying to warn her that an attack on Iraq would have catastrophic consequences, she simply willed us to be wrong. Clearly, her calculation was that she had to appear super-strong on defense in order to win the Democratic nomination and then the presidency in 2008.

Just as clearly, courting Israel and the Likud Lobby was also important to her political ambitions.

Tony Blair Admits Israeli Role

Any lingering doubt that Israel played a major role in the U.S.- U.K. decision to attack Iraq was dispelled a year ago when former Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke publicly about the Israeli input into the all-important Bush-Blair deliberations on Iraq in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002.
Inexplicably, Blair forgot his usual discretion when it comes to disclosing important facts to the public and blurted out some truth at the Chilcot hearings in London regarding the origins of the Iraq War:

“As I recall that [April 2002] discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us [Bush and Blair], whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this.”

According to Philip Zelikow – a former member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, and later counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice – the "real threat" from Iraq was not to the United States.

Zelikow told an audience at the University of Virginia in September 2002, the "unstated threat" from Iraq was the "threat against Israel.” He added, "The American government doesn't want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell."

But it wasn’t as though leading Israelis were disguising their hopes or an attack on Iraq. The current Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu published a pre-invasion piece titled “The case for Toppling Saddam” in the Wall Street Journal, in which he wrote:

"Today nothing less than dismantling his regime will do … I believe I speak for the overwhelming majority of Israelis in supporting a pre-emptive strike against Saddam's regime."

The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported in February 2003, "the military and political leadership yearns for war in Iraq.” And, as a retired Israeli general later put it, "Israeli intelligence was a full partner to the picture presented by American and British intelligence regarding Iraq's non-conventional [WMD] capabilities." In the United States, neoconservatives also pushed for war thinking that taking out Saddam Hussein would make Israel more secure.

Those Israeli leaders and their neocon allies got their wish on March 19, 2003, with the U.S.-U.K. invasion.

Of course, pressure from Israel and its Lobby was not the only factor behind the invasion of Iraq — think also oil, military bases, various political ambitions, revenge, etc. — but the Israeli factor was a central one.

A Calculating Senator

I’m afraid, though, that these calculations aimed at enhancing Israeli security may ultimately have the opposite effect. The Iraq War and the anti-Americanism that it has engendered across the Middle East seem sure to make Israel’s position in the region even more precarious.
If the Iraq War does end up making the region more dangerous for Israel, the fault will lie primarily with Israel’s hard-line leaders, as well as with those American officials (and media pundits) who so eagerly clambered onboard for the attack on Iraq.

One of those U.S. officials was the calculating senator from New York.

In a kind of poetic justice, Clinton’s politically motivated warmongering became a key factor in her losing the Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama, who as a young state senator in Illinois spoke out against the war.

Although she bet wrong in 2002-03, Clinton keeps doubling down in her apparent belief that her greater political vulnerability comes from being perceived as “weak” against U.S. adversaries. So, she’s emerged as one of the Obama administration’s leading hawks on Afghanistan and Iran.
I suspect she still has her eye on what she considers the crucial centers of financial, media and other power that could support a possible future run for president, whether in 2012 if the Obama administration unravels or in 2016.

Another explanation, I suppose, could be that the Secretary of State genuinely believes that the United States should fight wars favored by right-wing Israelis and their influential supporters in the U.S.

Whichever interpretation you prefer, there’s no doubt that she has put herself in the forefront of American leaders threatening Iran over its alleged “nuclear weapons” program, a “weapons” program that Iran denies exists and for which the U.S. intelligence community has found little or no evidence.

Bête Noire Iran

As a former CIA analyst myself, it strikes me as odd that Clinton’s speeches never reflect the consistent, unanimous judgment of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, issued formally (and with “high confidence”) in November 2007 that Iran stopped working on a nuclear weapon in the fall of 2003 and had not yet decided whether to resume that work.

Less than two weeks ago (on Feb. 10), in a formal appearance before the House Intelligence Committee, National Intelligence Director James Clapper testified:

“We continue to assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons….

“We continue to judge Iran’s nuclear decisionmaking is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Tehran.”

Who’s in Charge Here?

Yet, in her determination to come across as hard-line, Clinton has undercut promising initiatives that might have constrained Iran from having enough low-enriched uranium to be even tempted to build a nuclear arsenal.

Last year, when – at the urging of President Obama – the leaders of Turkey and Brazil worked out an agreement with Iran, under which Iran agreed to ship about half of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) out of country, Clinton immediately rejected it in favor of more severe economic sanctions.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva were left wondering who exactly was in charge in Washington — Hillary Clinton and her pro-Israel friends, or Obama.

Brazil released a three-page letter that Obama had sent to Lula da Silva a month earlier in which Obama said the proposed uranium transfer “would build confidence and reduce regional tensions by substantially reducing Iran’s” stockpile of low-enriched uranium.

The contrast between Obama’s support for the initiative and the opposition from various hardliners (including Clinton) caused “some puzzlement,” one senior Brazilian official told the New York Times. After all, this official said, the supportive “letter came from the highest authority and was very clear.”

It was a particularly telling episode. Clinton basked in the applause of Israeli leaders and neocon pundits for blocking the uranium transfer and securing more restrictive UN sanctions on Iran – and since then Iran appears to have dug in its heals on additional negotiations over its nuclear program.
Secretary Clinton is almost as assiduous as Netanyahu in never missing a chance to paint the Iranians in the darkest colors – even if that ends up painting the entire region into a more dangerous corner.

More Hypocrisy

On Feb. 15, Clinton continued giving hypocrisy a bad name, with her GWU speech regarding the importance of governments respecting peaceful dissent.

Five short paragraphs after she watched me snatched out of the audience Blackwater-style, she said, “Iran is awful because it is a government that routinely violates the rights of its people.” It was like something straight out of Franz Kafka.

Today, given the growing instability in the Middle East – and Netanyahu’s strident talk about Iran’s dangerous influence – it may take yet another Herculean effort by Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen to disabuse Netanyahu of the notion that Israel can somehow provoke the kind of confrontation with Iran that would automatically suck the U.S. into the conflict on Israel’s side.
At each such turning point, Secretary Clinton predictably sides with the hard-line Israeli position and shows remarkably little sympathy for the Palestinians or any other group that finds itself in Israel’s way.

It is now clear, not only from the WikiLeaks documents, but even more so from the “Palestine Papers” disclosed by Al Jazeera, that Washington has long been playing a thoroughly dishonest “honest-broker” role between Israel and the Palestinians.

But those documents don’t stand alone. Clinton also rejected the Goldstone Report’s criticism of Israel’s bloody attack on Gaza in 2008-09; she waffled on Israel’s fatal commando raid on a Turkish relief flotilla on its way to Gaza in 2010; and she rallied to the defense of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak this month when Israeli leaders raised alarms about what kind of regime might follow him.

Just last week, Clinton oversaw the casting of the U.S. veto to kill a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on Israel to stop colonizing territories it occupied in 1967. That vote was 14 to 1, marking the first such veto by the Obama administration. Netanyahu was quick to state that he “deeply appreciated” the U.S. stance.

Silent Witness

In the face of such callous disregard for what the Founders called “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind,” words failed me — literally — on Feb. 15.

The op-eds, the speeches, and the interviews that others and I have done about needless war and feckless politicians may have done some good but, surely, they have not done enough. And America’s Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) is the embodiment of a Fourth Estate that is dead in the water.

I counted about 20 TV cameras at the Clinton speech and reporters galore. Not one thought to come outside to watch what was happening to me, and zero reporting on the incident has found its way into the FCM, save a couple of brief and misleading accounts.

A Fox News story claimed that “a heckler interrupted” Clinton’s speech and then “was escorted from the room.” Fox News added that I "was, perhaps, trying to hold up a sign." CNN posted a brief clip with a similar insistence that I had “interrupted” Clinton’s speech, though the video shows me saying nothing until after I’m dragged away (or “escorted”) when I say, “So this is America.” There also was no sign.

Disappointing, but not surprising. But I guess I really do believe that the good is worth doing because it is good. It shouldn’t matter that there is little or no guarantee of success — or even of a truthful recounting of what happened.


One of my friends, in a good-natured attempt to make light of my arrest and brief imprisonment, commented that I must be used to it by now.

I thought of how anti-war activist Dan Berrigan responded to that kind of observation in his testimony at the Plowshares Eight trial 31 years ago. I feel blessed by his witness and fully identify with what he said about “the push of conscience”:

“With every cowardly bone in my body, I wished I hadn’t had to do it. That has been true every time I have been arrested. My stomach turns over. I feel sick. I feel afraid. I hate jail. I don’t do well there physically.

“But I have read that we must not kill. I have read that children, above all, are threatened by this. I have read that Christ our Lord underwent death rather than inflict it. And I’m supposed to be a disciple.

“The push of conscience is a terrible thing.”

As Fr. Berrigan clearly understood, the suffering of the victims of war is so much worse than the shock and discomfort of arrest.

For her part, Sen. and/or Secretary Clinton seems never to have encountered a war that she didn’t immediately embrace on behalf of some geopolitical justification, apparently following Henry Kissinger’s dictum that soldiers are “just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.”

For us Veterans for Peace, we’ve been there, done that. And so, enough already!

Moreover, beyond the human suffering of those caught up in war, there’s what’s in store for the rest of us. As recent rhetoric and disclosures of leaked documents have made clear, what lies ahead is a permanent warfare state, including occupation of foreign lands and new military bases around the globe -- unless we have the courage to stand up this time.

Already well under way is creeping curtailment of our rights at home. “A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny,” wrote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn — one who knew.

I think we need to bear in mind that we are part of a long line of those who have taken a stand on these issues. As for those of us who have served abroad to safeguard the rights of U.S. citizens — well, maybe we have a particular mandate now to keep doing what we can to keep protecting them.
An earlier version of this article appeared on

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. During his career as a CIA analyst, he prepared and briefed the President's Daily Brief and chaired National Intelligence Estimates. He is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

Behind the Arab Revolt Is a Word We Dare Not Speak
Thursday 24 February 2011
by: John Pilger, t r u t h o u t

Shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I interviewed Ray McGovern, one of an elite group of CIA officers who prepared then-president George W. Bush's daily intelligence brief. At that time, McGovern was at the apex of the "national security" monolith that is American power and had retired with presidential plaudits. On the eve of the invasion, he and 45 other senior officers of the CIA and other intelligence agencies wrote to Bush that the "drumbeat for war" was based not on intelligence, but lies.

"It was 95 percent charade," McGovern told me.

"How did they get away with it?" I asked.

"The press allowed the crazies to get away with it."

"Who are the crazies?"

"The people running the [Bush] administration have a set of beliefs a lot like those expressed in
'Mein Kampf,'" said McGovern. "These are the same people who were referred to, in the circles in which I moved at the top, as 'the crazies.'"

I said: "Norman Mailer has written that he believes America has entered a pre-fascist state. What's your view of that?"

"Well ... I hope he's right, because there are others saying we are already in a fascist mode."
On January 22, 2011, McGovern emailed me to express his disgust at the Obama administration's barbaric treatment of the alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning and its pursuit of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.

"Way back when George and Tony decided it might be fun to attack Iraq," he wrote, "I said something to the effect that fascism had already begun here. I have to admit I did not think it would get this bad this quickly."

On February 16, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech at George Washington University in which she condemned governments that arrested protestors and crushed free expression. She lauded the liberating power of the Internet, while failing to mention that her government was planning to close down those parts of the Internet that encouraged dissent and truth-telling. It was a speech of spectacular hypocrisy, and McGovern was in the audience. Outraged, he rose from his chair and silently turned his back on Clinton. He was immediately seized by police and a security goon and beaten to the floor, dragged out and thrown into jail, bleeding. He has sent me photographs of his injuries. He is 71. During the assault, which was clearly visible to Clinton, she did not pause in her remarks.

Fascism is a difficult word, because it comes with an iconography that touches the Nazi nerve and is abused as propaganda against America's official enemies and to promote the West's foreign adventures with a moral vocabulary written in the struggle against Hitler. And yet, fascism and imperialism are twins. In the aftermath of World War II, those in the imperial states who had made respectable the racial and cultural superiority of "western civilization" found that Hitler and fascism had claimed the same, employing strikingly similar methods. Thereafter, the very notion of American imperialism was swept from the textbooks and popular culture of an imperial nation forged on the genocidal conquest of its native people, and a war on social justice and democracy became "US foreign policy."

As the Washington historian William Blum has documented, since 1945, the US has destroyed or subverted more than 50 governments, many of them democracies, and used mass murderers like Suharto, Mobutu and Pinochet to dominate by proxy. In the Middle East, every dictatorship and pseudo-monarchy has been sustained by America. In "Operation Cyclone," the CIA and MI6 secretly fostered and bankrolled Islamic extremism. The object was to smash or deter nationalism and democracy. The victims of this western state terrorism have been mostly Muslims. The courageous people gunned down last week in Bahrain and Libya, the latter a "priority UK market," according to Britain's official arms "procurers," join those children blown to bits in Gaza by the latest American F-16 aircraft.

The revolt in the Arab world is not merely against a resident dictator, but against a worldwide economic tyranny designed by the US Treasury and imposed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which have ensured that rich countries like Egypt are reduced to vast sweatshops, with half the population earning less than $2 a day. The people's triumph in Cairo was the first blow against what Benito Mussolini called corporatism, a word that appears in his definition of fascism.

How did such extremism take hold in the liberal West? "It is necessary to destroy hope, idealism, solidarity, and concern for the poor and oppressed," observed Noam Chomsky a generation ago, and "to replace these dangerous feelings with self-centered egoism, a pervasive cynicism that holds that ... the state capitalist order with its inherent inequities and oppression is the best that can be achieved. In fact, a great international propaganda campaign is underway to convince people - particularly young people - that this not only is what they should feel but that it's what they do feel."

Like the European revolutions of 1848 and the uprising against Stalinism in 1989, the Arab revolt has rejected fear. An insurrection of suppressed ideas, hope and solidarity has begun. In the United States, where 45 percent of young African-Americans have no jobs and the top hedge fund managers are paid, on average, $1 billion a year, mass protests against cuts in services and jobs have spread to heartland states like Wisconsin. In Britain, the fastest-growing modern protest movement, UK Uncut, is about to take direct action against tax avoiders and rapacious banks. Something has changed that cannot be unchanged. The enemy has a name now.

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